- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — While the crowd of 7,436 at Joel Coliseum came out to ogle and lavish attention on Tim Duncan — the most famous athlete in Wake Forest history — Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was focused on something entirely different.

Jordan is trying to figure out a few things about his own team, which defeated the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs here last night 95-91.

The Wizards got their first look at forward Caron Butler, whom they acquired over the summer from the Los Angles Lakers along with Chucky Atkins in exchange for Kwame Brown.

Butler was kept out of the Wizards’ preseason opener on Monday against Cleveland because of a minor groin injury — one that he would have likely played with during the regular season — ran the floor well and didn’t look sluggish on his way to 14 points and five rebounds.

“Caron looked OK, but stats don’t always show what coaches like to see sometimes,” Jordan said. “We like what he brings and he loves to play the game. But he needs to understand the offense a little bit more and see the floor a little bit more. I do like his defense, for the most part.”

Butler, who drew the unenviable task of having to guard three-time MVP Tim Duncan in the second quarter, is at the center of the hottest position battle on the squad — small forward, where Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes are also trying to win the gig.

Hayes, who started against Cleveland but last night came off the bench, caught fire in the second quarter, and he is looking more and more as if the broken knee cap that ended last season for him prematurely and prevented him from playing basketball for close to seven months is healed.

Hayes, who is also getting minutes at shooting guard, began the night making two of his first six shots in the first quarter, which ended with the Wizards down 24-21.

But Hayes warmed considerably in the second quarter, connecting on 5 of 7 shots from the floor to give him all but two of his team-high 19 points by halftime, and the Wizards a 51-49 halftime advantage.

“I really like Jarvis, but let’s see it some more,” Jordan said. “You can’t get really excited over one performance. But it was good for him.”

Last season in a 28-point loss at San Antonio, Hayes scored a career-high 27 points.

San Antonio reserve guard Beno Udrih led the Spurs with a game-high 20 points. Duncan finished with four points and 13 rebounds.

Wizards guard Antonio Daniels continued his preseason trend of attacking the basket. In the opener against Cleveland, Daniels attempted 13 free throws. Last night against the Spurs Daniels continued that trend, shooting 8 for 12 from the free-throw line and finishing with 12 points to go with six assists.

Jeffries sat out last night’s game nursing a sore left groin that isn’t serious. So did Gilbert Arenas, who was out with a hamstring injury. Arenas is not likely to play until the Wizards travel to California next week.

Notes — While the game was basically a homecoming for Duncan, it was also a bit of a welcome home for North Carolina alums and natives Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. While they were rivals of Wake Forest in college, they received a warm welcome when introduced. Haywood, of nearby Greensboro, had 21 friends and family in attendance. Both went scoreless. … Rookie forward Andray Blatche did not travel with the Wizards to Winston-Salem.

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