Thursday , Feb , 15 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Wizards head into break on a slump

(Sports Network) – You hate to throw out overused one-liners, but sometimes it
is tough to resist. And on that note, one has to ask the Washington Wizards,
“can’t we all just get along?”

The Wizards enter the All-Star break on top of the Southeast Division by 3 1/2
games over Orlando, and at 29-21, are third overall in the East. Yet, the team
isn’t playing nice with each other as of late.

It all started on Friday when center Etan Thomas was suspended for two games
by the club for conduct detrimental to the team. A report out of the
Washington Post said that conduct was a fight between Thomas and Brendan
Haywood earlier in the day.

“This is a team matter which has been handled internally,” said Wizards
president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld. “Etan will miss the next
two games and return after the All-Star break. We will have no further comment
on this issue.”

The team had lost three of its previous four games at that point and was set
to conclude a four-game homestand on Sunday. That matchup was a highly
anticipated one because guard Gilbert Arenas had said he would put up 50
points on the Trail Blazers as a way to get back at Portland head coach Nate
McMillan.

Arenas was, and probably still is, upset about McMillan’s role in leaving the
guard off of the U.S. national team last summer. McMillan was an assistant
coach on the club.

Yet, Arenas didn’t even come close to his mark as he totaled just nine points
on 3-of-15 shooting. He also missed all eight of his three-point attempts.
After the game, Arenas blamed his offensive woes on a new team philosophy.

“We have a new philosophy now and that is focusing on defense,” said Arenas.
“We are trying to concentrate more on our defense and right now we are still
adjusting to that.”

His shooting misery continued three nights later in Philadelphia. He managed
22 points in the 92-85 victory, but hit on just eight of his 26 shot attempts
and was 1-of-9 from long range.

Arenas is picking a bad time to hit a skid as the club is still without
forward Antawn Jamison, who is sidelined with a left knee injury. Jamison has
been out since January 31 — a span of six games — and the Wizards are just
2-4 over that stretch.

Maybe a little fun will shake Arenas out of his mini slump. He is set to start
for the Eastern Conference in this weekend’s All-Star battle, while forward
Caron Butler will serve as a reserve. The East, of course, will be led by
Washington head coach Eddie Jordan.

Arenas will also give it a go in the Three-Point Shootout.

WAS