- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2008

Two days after learning of the severity of starting center Brendan Haywood’s wrist injury, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan expressed confidence Thursday in the abilities of backups Etan Thomas, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Darius Songaila.

He said each player has respective limitations, however. Thomas, coming off a year absence while recovering from heart surgery, needs to work on his game-level conditioning.

Blatche needed to work on consistently playing at a high level for extended periods of time.

McGee, the rookie out of Nevada, still is learning the pro game. And at 6-foot-9, Songalia can be used only against smaller lineups.

But Friday night at Verizon Center, where the Wizards hosted the Detroit Pistons in their third preseason game, it was clear the Haywood replacement projects could take some time to develop.

Thomas turned in a solid effort in the 73-62 defeat, recording eight points, three blocks and two rebounds in 23 minutes.

But the production didn’t carry over to his fellow centers. Blatche mustered four points on 2-for-12 shooting, four rebounds and four turnovers, fouling out late in the third quarter.

McGee also struggled with foul trouble. Two nights after scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds, he didn’t score until the fourth quarter, when he notched eight points and with four rebounds.

Songaila, meanwhile, played six minutes and finished with two points and three rebounds.

“The NBA is a strange thing,” Jordan said. “You can look like gangbusters one night, and come out the next night and don’t look great or even average at all. And some of our guys were like that. We’re trying to see if we can see a pattern of guys playing consistently, getting better at the offense, and we see some guys who get in foul trouble and can’t stay in the game. So, there are some things to work on but, man, that was one of the most nonexciting preseason games I’ve ever been a part of.”

Notes-Haywood, who will miss four to six months once he has a torn ligament in his right wrist repaired, said he expects to have surgery in New York possibly as soon as next week. …

Jamison said his right knee feels good four days after he suffered a contusion against Dallas. Jamison said he could return in time to play in the team’s final two preseason games. …

The Wizards cut rookie small forward Taj McCullough on Friday morning, bringing the preseason roster down to 17 players. McCullough was in a three-way battle with second-year player Dominic McGuire and veteran journeyman Linton Johnson for the backup small forward spot.

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