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News » Bulls-Wizards Preview

Bulls-Wizards Preview

Bulls-Wizards Preview
After making some veteran acquisitions, the Chicago Bulls have made their playoff aspirations clear.

Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas' intentions have been much more complex.

The Bulls continue their postseason push Friday night when they visit a Wizards team that has apparently been practicing with its enigmatic guard.

Washington (13-44) has the Eastern Conference's worst record and holds no hope of a playoff run, so it's strange that the team would be tight-lipped about where Arenas stands in his return from a surgically repaired knee.

There's still no timetable on his return, but according to reports Tuesday the three-time All-Star said he returned to practice last week, has been at full speed and is "running, jumping, dunking, feeling good."

Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said he understood why Arenas would want to play coy. Arenas' two prior attempts to return fizzled, and that resulted in three surgeries on the knee over 18 months.

Arenas has yet to play since signing a six-year, $111 million contract last summer.

Chicago (26-32) is banking on trades for John Salmons, Brad Miller and Tim Thomas to help it return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Bulls, one game behind Milwaukee for eighth place in the East, have eased them into the rotation in the three games since being acquired.

Salmons is averaging 12.7 points per game after posing 18.0 in 53 contests with Sacramento. Miller, who was acquired along with Salmons from the Kings in a trade Feb. 18, is averaging 8.3 points and 7.3 rebounds with Chicago.

Thomas is averaging 8.3 points after being obtained in a deal with New York on Feb. 19.

The trio combined for 33 points against New Jersey on Wednesday night as Chicago lost 111-99 in a matchup with a team it is battling in the playoff race.

Washington's latest loss, 106-98 to Philadelphia on Wednesday night, was particularly frustrating for Tapscott. The Wizards committed 21 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter.

Tapscott said Washington lacked "focus, concentration, effort and execution" in an emotional postgame rant, adding he may have to start a more scripted pregame preparation period for his players.

"If that means I'm out there on the floor in my sweats, we'll do that," he said.

Wizards veteran Antawn Jamison, who along with Caron Butler has carried the team in Arenas' absence, agreed with Tapscott.

"That's embarrassing that Coach is saying that now," he said. "He's been saying that for almost since he's taken over and still for some guys that is a joke. He's done everything possible to have not only the vets, but everybody ready to play basketball, and it's a time when certain guys have got to be professional and treat it as their job and be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared."

Jamison has been held to 16 points in each of his last two games after averaging 26.7 in his previous three. He shot 4-for-12 and finished with 12 in Washington's 98-86 loss to Chicago on Jan. 9, the last meeting between the teams.

The Bulls won their only other matchup with the Wizards 117-110 on Dec. 6. This will be the first time the teams will meet at Washington this season.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 26, 2009


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