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Back in the district

I'm no professional lip reader but I swear that after Brendan Haywood's hard foul on LeBron James last night, James mouthed the words "They're trying to hurt me Danny!" to referee Dan Crawford.

I just hopped off a flight from Cleveland and arrived here at the VC where the Wizards are gathering for a shootaround/film session. No word yet on whether the league is going to suspend Haywood for the foul but my guess is that won't. I personally don't feel that it was a flagrant 2 either. Flagrant 1, yes. Others, especially everyone in Cleveland, saw it differently.

Then again, James was in the air and defenseless and Haywood extended his arms so it looked bad. On the flip side of that, Haywood appeared to be trying to give a foul and caught James in an awkward spot. That happens sometimes. I've never known Haywood to be a dirty player. And, I could be wrong, but most suspensions come from fights or when a guy is contacted in the head and face area. I guess we'll see.

Either way, there is going to be a ton of spotlight on the zebras here on out in this series. The Cavaliers, meaning Mike Brown and James, have successfully created the perception that the Wizards are playing dirty basketball and are out to hurt one of the game's biggest stars. The Wizards maintain that they simply want to play clean, hard basketball and not give James easy layups, dunks and three-point plays.

Also, it's interesting to note that some of the hardest fouls in this series have come from the Cavs.

In Game 1, James blasted Andray Blatche in the face with an elbow after Blatche had clocked him across the face earlier. In Game 2, Ben Wallace laid a good and hard but clean playoff quality foul on Caron Butler early in the game. Amazingly, Butler didn't roll around on the ground or whine to the refs while grabbing his lip as if it had been torn off and Eddie Jordan held back from sprinting onto the court in Brown like fashion to demand that his all-star receive justice.

Later in Game 2, Anderson Varajeo clocked Blatche in the head and face and Delonte West laid a hard foul on Antonio Daniels.

From a basketball standpoint, the Wizards have to get going offensively and it must start with Caron Butler. He's made nine field goals in two games and been nothing like the dominant player he was earlier in the season.

By Ivan Carter  |  April 22, 2008; 12:06 PM ET
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