- The Washington Times - Friday, January 20, 2006

Not long after Antonio Daniels had, by his own admission, “one of the — if not the worst — games of my life,” he didn’t hide.

Rather, Daniels, who had just gone 0-for-10 from the floor in a home loss to Denver, stood in front of his locker and discussed at length the hardships he was experiencing inculcating his game and figuring out his role among his new teammates.

That was back on Nov. 22. These days Daniels, who last summer signed a five-year, $30 million deal to play for the Washington Wizards, is looking considerably more comfortable [-] and finally that’s starting to show up in box scores.

After scoring in double figures just five times through 29 games, Daniels has scored in double figures in six consecutive games. During that stretch, he has had the most success playing off the pick-and-roll and then attacking the basket and, as a result, he has been getting to the free throw line. During that stretch, he has made 33 of 40 free throws.

But Daniels refuses to talk about himself, saying any success the Wizards are having or will have will be as a team, and that talking about himself is, well, a waste of time.

“Nope, I’m not going to do it,” Daniels said after scoring 17 points and handing out a team-high six assists Wednesday when Orlando ended the Wizards’ season-high four-game winning streak. “I’ll talk about how we’ve been playing better and trusting each other more on the court. And I’ll talk about supporting my teammates, but that other stuff isn’t important unless it’s helping us win ball games.”

While Daniels doesn’t want to talk about it, his teammates will.

“He looks great,” forward Caron Butler said. “He’s attacking and getting to the basket, which is something everybody knew he could do. He’s having fun out there and he’s being a vocal leader. You can see him finding his place.”

When he was struggling earlier in the season, Daniels maintained that despite his offensive troubles, playing well at the defensive end was all about the effort he put forth.

While that sounds simple, the bottom line is that so much of what constitutes good defense in this league is working well with teammates, making defensive rotations. That has been a big problem for the Wizards almost on a nightly basis.

It also hasn’t helped much that the Wizards’ rotation has fluctuated almost from game to game.

Daniels is getting more minutes now because of Jarvis Hayes’ knee injury. And now that the Wizards have bought out Chucky Atkins’ contract, the team’s rotation probably will tighten.

“I don’t have any control over that,” Daniels said. “I just have to be ready when I’m called upon to go out there. That’s my job as a professional, not to worry about the minutes I’m playing. I just want to bring what I bring to the table and hope it helps the team.”

Note — The Wizards yesterday recalled second-year center Peter John Ramos from the Roanoke Dazzle of the NBA Development League. Ramos was sent to Roanoke on Nov. 14. In 21 games with the Dazzle, Ramos averaged 14.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 28.1 minutes a game. He also shot 55.3 percent from the field.

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