- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

SEEN AND HEARD AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

NEW YORK - With the Washington Wizards already short-handed at center with last year’s starter, Brendan Haywood, out with wrist surgery, the team could have done without the torn meniscus in the left knee of backup Etan Thomas, who likely is done for the season.

The silver lining in the situation, however, is that with Thomas out, his minutes will go toward the further development of rookie JaVale McGee, whose play has been sporadic since he was bumped out of the starting lineup Dec. 15. Coach Ed Tapscott previously preferred to use McGee only in certain situations, relying on the veteran Thomas to spell Andray Blatche more often. But that all changes now.

“Normally [McGee] would play against the taller, thinner guys, and I would play Etan against the more physical guys,” Tapscott said. “Now it means JaVale will play against whoever’s out there, and it may open up an opportunity for Oleksiy Pecherov to get some time.”

The 7-foot Pecherov, who is in his second season but has seen less playing time than McGee, is more of a natural forward who is more comfortable jacking up 3s. But if Tapscott chooses to use him, he won’t ask the Ukrainian to change his offensive game.

“He probably won’t be a low post type of center, but that’s OK,” Tapscott said. “He’ll provide an interesting matchup for people because he does play on the perimeter offensively, and defensively he’s just going to have to go in the post and guard if his man takes him there.”

- Mike Jones

QUOTABLE

“There’s a book that was written about life in the NFL called, ‘Next Man Up.’ So next next man. Gotta go play. Long season. Opportunities come. You’ve got to make the most of them.”

- Wizards coach Ed Tapscott, who now is without injured veterans Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and Etan Thomas

BY THE NUMBERS

66 Points scored by the Wizards in the first half. Washington posted the season high of 61.0 percent shooting from the field, also a high for a first half this season.

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