- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 16 last night at Verizon Center for Game 3 of the team’s Eastern Conference first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the three-time All-Star, who has spent his last seven games as a reserve, left the game with a bone bruise in his left knee with 2:14 left in the second quarter.

Arenas suffered the injury with 6:03 left in the first quarter and went to the bench. He spent the first half of the second quarter on an exercise bike, then played four minutes before leaving the game for good.

He limped to the locker room, wincing and unable to bend his leg at all.

The team listed him as day-to-day. Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said after the game that the team’s medical staff brought up the possibility that Arenas could have a pinched nerve in his knee. Jordan said that he thinks after three days of rest Arenas can be ready to play Sunday.

It’s the same knee Arenas had surgery on twice in the last year and that forced him to miss 69 games this season.

Last night was the ninth game Arenas started this season. His 2006-07 season ended when he tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He returned this season and started the Wizards’ first eight games.

But Arenas, who continued to experience pain in the knee, went under the knife again Nov. 21 after learning he tore the medial meniscus in the same knee during his summer rehab.

Arenas’ return to the lineup was somewhat of a last-minute decision. On Wednesday, Jordan said Arenas was “far” from being his old self. An hour before tip-off, Jordan said the plan at the time was to keep Arenas as a reserve, but that any change would be “an 11th-hour decision.”

Brown responds to Jordan

In the continuing dialog over who’s fouling whom, and to what extent, Cleveland coach Mike Brown said before Game 3 last night that he hadn’t heard the comments Wizards coach Eddie Jordan made about the Cavaliers’ complaints of overly vicious fouls.

Jordan on Wednesday said: “Considering the fouls they gave on us, you at least have to go for the ball. You can throw your body at anyone you want. It just seems like, watching the fouls they gave on us, pretend you’re going to block the ball, and throw your body at the layup guy. That’s a good technique.”

After the comment was relayed to him, Brown responded: “That’s good.”

He later added: “The only thing I was trying to argue, and I still argue is if you come out and publicly say you’re gonna hit somebody. … If I said I was gonna hit you and we went out and played a pick-up game and I hit you, you’d take a little offense to that if it was done the wrong way.”

Brown wasn’t finished.

“The only thing I was saying was, if it’s a foul it’s a foul, but don’t come out publicly and say you’re gonna hit somebody, and don’t go for the ball at times,” he said. “But if he says we fouled just as much, that’s great. The referees will call it.”

NBA commissioner David Stern briefly addressed reporters before the game and when asked about his take on Haywood’s foul. He said because Haywood wasn’t going for the ball, the officials made the right call and that he agreed with the ruling that the Wizards center should not have received a suspension.

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