- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

MINNESOTA — If the Washington Wizards want to see their coach at his animated best — a quick spin on his heels or a drop of his head — all they have to do is continue turning the ball over the way they have in the last two games.

The Wizards (31-22) are as economical with the basketball as any team in the league, committing on average just 13.1 turnovers a game.

However, in their last two games — a win over Sacramento and a loss to Chicago — they have turned the ball over a combined 37 times.

“Yeah, that’s not our character,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said following the Wizards’ 105-90 loss at Chicago on Friday. “Maybe we are trying to do too much, maybe it’s because we are trying to play with some new guys. But I don’t even know if that’s it because the guys who are turning it over are guys like Gilbert [Arenas] and Caron [Butler].”

Arenas committed a season-high nine turnovers against Sacramento on Wednesday, a stat probably overlooked because of his 43 points in the Wizards’ 109-106 victory.

In the loss to Chicago, the Wizards committed 17 turnovers, which the Bulls converted into a season-high 26 fast-break points. The Bulls, meanwhile, committed just five turnovers to tie the league’s season low.

“Man, we turned it over 17 times?” Arenas said Friday night, unaware of how badly his team had taken care of the ball. “Well, there you have it. And they turned it over just five times. So they controlled the ball. It didn’t hut us so much against Sacramento, but it did against the Bulls.”

The Wizards are no doubt concerned about the recent spate of turnovers, but there are any number of reasons as to why they might be happening. The most obvious would be the absence of Antawn Jamison, who has missed the team’s last eight games with a sprained knee.

Jamison traveled to Minnesota and some of his teammates have said that he looks very close to being ready to returning. When he suffered the injury on Jan. 30, the Wizards estimated that Jamison would be out for three to six weeks. One team source speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Jamison might be able to return as soon as Tuesday when the Wizards play at New Jersey.

“He’s right around the corner,” is how Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld characterized Jamison’s readiness on Thursday.

DeShawn Stevenson, who along with Andray Blatche has stepped up his play in Jamison’s absence, said that the Wizards are probably thinking too much about the turnovers they’re committing these days.

“When you do that you start to think about it too much and then it becomes a problem,” said Stevenson, who has scored 23, 21 and 13 points, respectively, in the team’s last three games. “We’re good at taking care of the ball and we’ve got to continue doing that.”

Note — As of last night the Wizards had not yet arrived in Minneapolis for today’s game vs. Minnesota. The snowstorm that hit the upper Midwest prevented the Wizards’ charter from landing in Minnesota yesterday afternoon. Instead they were diverted to Duluth, Minn. There, they sat on the runway for more than three hours. They were forced into a nearby hotel and late last night their plan was to make the drive to Minneapolis.

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