Friday , Mar , 09 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Wizards looking over their shoulder

(Sports Network) – Right around the All-Star break, the Washington Wizards
were making a serious push to post the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Now they are just trying to win their own division and are feeling the heat,
so to speak.

Though still much alive to grab the top seed in the East — the Wizards trail
Detroit by just 3 1/2 games — the club has lost five of its last eight and
now leads the Southeast by just three games over Miami.

Washington’s losing skid includes four straight defeats from February 23-28,
with the fourth defeat coming at the hands of the Heat. Gilbert Arenas shot
just 3-of-18 for 15 points in that 92-83 setback, while Caron Butler and
Antawn Jamison both missed the game due to injury.

Butler and Jamison combined for 52 points in Washington’s win over Miami on
December 15.

While the Wizards have been slipping, the Heat have been on fire as of late.
That makes their matchup this Sunday in Miami a big one as the Heat will try
to close the gap in the division standings. The teams then wrap their season
series on April 11 in Miami.

One key for the Wizards will be their health. Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson
have started every game this year, but Jamison missed a chunk of time with a
left knee sprain and Butler has been battling a back ailment.

However, when those four are on the floor to start a game, in addition to
Brendan Haywood, the Wizards are 20-6 on the season.

Arenas has been good in the Wizards’ last three games. He is averaging 28.3
points per game over that span and was a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range
in a 129-109 win over Toronto on Tuesday. He has also handed out 16 assists
over his last three outings and is 22-of-24 from the line as well.

Arenas has posted eight double-doubles on the season and has netted 40-plus
points eight times this year.

WAS