- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Washington Wizards guard/forward Caron Butler said an MRI done Monday on his left hamstring showed some inflammation, and the official word from the team was that its second-leading scorer is day-to-day.

The good news for the Wizards and Butler is that the injury, which has caused him to miss four games in the past three weeks, isn’t of a serious variety, such as a tear.

But unfortunately for the 16-51 Wizards, Butler - who is averaging 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists - could be sidelined for at least half, if not all, of their four-game Western Conference road trip that begins Tuesday at Utah. The Wizards face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, then visit Denver and Phoenix on Friday and Saturday.

Butler traveled with the team and said via text message that he would just have to wait and see how his hamstring responds to continued treatment, adding, “I don’t expect to play for a [while] though.”

With Butler out of the lineup, Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said he expects to stick with the lineup he used in Sunday’s 106-104 victory against Sacramento. He moved small forward Dominic McGuire to shooting guard to replace Butler beside point guard Mike James in the backcourt. Tapscott slid power forward Antawn Jamison to small forward and inserted usual backup center/forward Andray Blatche in the lineup at power forward next to center Darius Songaila.

“I think that’s where I’m going to stay, and remember before Andray got hurt he was starting [at center],” Tapscott said. “I think that’s the configuration that will best serve us right now.”

The hope was that the bigger lineup, which featured Blatche (6-foot-11), Songalia and Jamison (both 6-9) and McGuire (6-8), would benefit the Wizards. Although they did record eight blocks (three apiece from Blatche and McGuire and one each from Jamison and James), the Wizards still got outrebounded 44-39.

Washington, which won after weathering a strong charge from the last-place Kings, will need better efforts this week.

“We’re playing teams that are fighting for playoff position - Utah, Denver and Phoenix trying to hold on. … We’ve definitely got to [play] some hard-nosed basketball. It’s going to be some tough games,” said Jamison, who admitted the games will be that much tougher without Butler.

“Hopefully it’s not that severe and it’s not going to take that long. Most importantly, we can get him at some point during this trip. He definitely makes it easier for me out there on the court, and it’s always good to have a guy of his caliber on both ends of the floor competing night in and night out. But if not, the young guys have to step up. No one’s feeling sorry for us; we just have to do our best to compete.”

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