- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

After two disappointing losses in Cleveland, the Washington Wizards welcome the opportunity to return to Verizon Center tonight as they try to rebound from a 2-0 deficit in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Although the past isn’t in Washington’s favor, with teams starting a seven-game series 2-0 advancing 94 percent of the time, the Wizards remain optimistic.

“We just need to get our mojo back,” guard Roger Mason Jr. said. “We’ve had a great season and now we’ll have the opportunity to come home, have the crowd behind us and get a win.”

The Wizards have been here before, starting 0-2 against the Chicago Bulls in the 2005 playoffs before rebounding to win four straight. And while they aren’t banking on past successes, players believe they can regain their footing with a few adjustments.

“We have to come to an understanding that the first team that loses at home is pretty much in the doghouse,” Antawn Jamison said. “They did what they were supposed to do, Now the ball’s in our court to defend our home court and play better than we did the last two games. Offensively, we’ve been horrible — not disciplined enough to make them play defense at all.”

Arenas not right

After scoring 24 points in Game 1, Gilbert Arenas struggled Monday. The three-time All-Star finished with seven points on 2-for-10 shooting in Washington’s 116-86 Game 2 defeat.

Arenas didn’t speak with reporters yesterday, but coach Eddie Jordan said his guard still isn’t healthy after undergoing two knee surgeries in the last month and missing 69 games while recovering this season.

“Gilbert is far from being the Gilbert that we know and that he will be in October,” Jordan said.

Arenas, who has worn large bags of ice after each playoff game, likely will continue to come off the bench.


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