- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008

PHOENIX — Caron Butler missed his sixth game in the last two weeks, still recovering from a strained left hip flexor, while his Washington Wizards faced the Phoenix Suns last night.

Teammate Antonio Daniels — limited to just six minutes in the Wizards’ last game Friday because of bone spurs in his right ankle — also missed yesterday’s game, which ended too late for this edition.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said Butler did some light work in a shootaround yesterday morning and that the All-Star forward — averaging 21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game — is getting better little by little.

Daniels didn’t take part in the shootaround at all. He instead watched from the bench wearing flip-flops.

Jordan still hopes Butler will return to action at some point during the road trip but said the Wizards just will have to wait and see. He expects Butler to get back onto the court before Daniels.

“Caron is probably ahead of Antonio,” Jordan said. “Whether it’s a day, two days or a half a day, he seems to be ahead of Antonio. But anything can happen overnight. A.D., he’s a tough guy. He likes to try it when it’s painful, but what we don’t want him to do is try it when it’s injured.”

Arenas eyes return

All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas, who has missed all but eight games after having knee surgery in November, is on the Wizards’ current West Coast trip, but he has yet to resume practicing.

Backing up what Arenas had said two weeks ago, Jordan said the guard plans to begin practicing after this week’s All-Star break. Jordan said the Wizards’ medical team is being cautious with Arenas. He has done a lot of work on the trainers’ table and in the weight room as well as some stand-still shooting, but he hasn’t done any running on the court.

“We’re still thinking an in-general area of March 1 as a loose sort of date,” Jordan said. “We’ll see where he is and get a really good feel for it, but that’s all I really know.”

‘Rookie Tour’

Daniels’ injury has provided a starting opportunity at point guard for Roger Mason Jr. — normally one of the Wizards’ top backups.

Last night marked the seventh start of the season for Mason, who started six when Daniels was out with a knee injury. For the season, Mason is averaging 7.7 points and 1.6 assists in 19.9 minutes a game. But as a starter, he is averaging 15.2 points and 3.0 assists in 34.8 minutes while shooting 47.8 percent from the field.

With Butler out, forward Andray Blatche got his seventh start in the last two weeks.

That leaves the Wizards with a relatively inexperienced reserve corps of veteran Darius Songaila and rookies Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Oleksiy Pecherov. But a lack of experience won’t cause Jordan to be hesitant to call on his backups on this trip, which features some of the highest scoring teams in the league.

“Nope, nope,” Jordan said. “We’ll sort of have to name this the ‘Rookie Tour’ if those guys remain hurt — Antonio and Caron. So, there’s the Hannah Montana Tour, and there’s the Rookie Tour. Hopefully we’ll be a little tougher than the Hannah Montana Tour.”

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