- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The NBA released its 2011-2012 schedule Tuesday, despite the fact that the league has been in a lockout since July 1. The two sides are far apart on many issues, and no negotiations sessions are scheduled.

Few NBA analysts believe the season will begin on time.

“It’s just business as usual,” ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard said about the release of the schedule. “It could make some fans hopeful and optimistic, but in reality, there’s no reason for optimism at this point.”

The Washington Wizards issued a release highlighting their most interesting games, with the home opener scheduled for Nov. 2 against Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets.

The next game is a Nov. 5 game against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, making it the first time since the 1978-79 season that the Wizards, who were then still the Bullets, opened with back-to-back home games.

The previous season, 1977-78, was the year the Bullets/Wizards organization won its only NBA championship.

Fans who enjoy a few dazzling highlight reel dunks might enjoy coming to see Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, who visit Verizon Center on Dec.14. The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, will make stops in D.C. on Dec.16 and Feb. 10.

Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks will make their only trip to Verizon Center on Jan. 10. Former Wizards Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson were part of the Mavericks title run, although Butler’s season ended in January because of knee surgery, and Haywood played sporadically in the finals with a hip flexor injury.

Other highlights include a visit by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 4, appearances by Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks on Jan. 6 and Feb. 8, and two visits by D.C. native Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 18 and March 16.

The league also announced its national television schedule, with games carried by broadcast partners TNT, ESPN, ESPN Radio, ABC, and NBA-TV. Highlights include an opening-night doubleheader featuring the Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, followed by the Lakers and the Thunder.

The Mavericks and Heat will meet Christmas Day.

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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