Wizards (14-44) at Milwaukee Bucks (28-33)
Wizards starters: Mike James, Caron Butler, Darius Songaila, Antawn Jamison, Dominic McGuire.
(note: Javaris Crittenton was a late scratch. He's sick)
Bucks starters: Ramon Sessions, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Francisco Elson, Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson.
Refs:Derrick Stafford, Eric Lewis, Gary Zielinski.
Line: Bucks by 6 1/2.
-Bucks lead the season series 2-0 with a 112-105 victory here on Nov. 5 and a 97-91 win Jan. 12 at Washington.
-The Wizards are 1-11 in the second game of back-to-backs. They played one of their best games last night in a 113-90 win over the Bulls. They're going for only their third two-game winning streak of the season tonight.
Caron Butler after last night's game: "I've been screaming it all season: it's about consistency. You see us play like this, everyone gets involved and now we have a game against Milwaukee, a good team and a playoff contender. We have to bring the same energy. We gotta move the ball, execute our offense and just stay solid."
-A key stat for the Wizards continues to be rebounding. When they outboard an opponent, as they did last night, they are 12-12. When they finish with fewer or tie, they are 2-32.
-The Bucks are clinging to playoff hopes. Goingi into tonight, they are in the 8th spot, just ahead of New Jersey and Chicago. Like the Wiz, the Bucks have been ripped by injuries. Michael Redd went down with a knee injury on Jan. 24 and Andrew Bogut has been out since Feb. 3 with a lower back injury. Rookie F Joe Alexander is also out tonight (ankle).
-To answer a question e-mailed by a reader: Kevin asks why Gilbert Arenas hasn't been on the bench for most games lately. The answer that Arenas has either been working out on the practice court during games or, in the case of some road trips, he hasn't gone. In the case of this one, Brendan Haywood is the only injured player who came along. The other guys sstayed back with a trainer to rehab.
Arenas has consistently been around in the locker room and recently, in practice however. The vibe I get from him is that he's feeling all kinds of pressure to get back on the court and wants to lay as low as possible. The other explanation is that it's just Gilbert being Gilbert. If someone thinks they can predict what he is going to do or say, they are kidding themselves.
-Some folks have also asked about the coaching situation for next season. Here's the deal: though Ernie Grunfeld has only said that the decision will be made after the season, it's pretty much assumed that Ed Tapscott will move back into his previous role as director of player development while Grunfeld goes out and finds a new coach. Thing is, the lid on his thinking on that situation has been air tight. I mean, no chatter whatsover and I'm pretty plugged in that place.
The names I've heard bandied about are the obvious ones: Flip Saunders, Avery Johnson, Sam Mitchell (who is said to have a strong relationship with Grunfeld) etc.
I don't see Johnson or Mitchell as good fits simply because of Arenas. That's why my gut tells me that a guy like Saunders would make sense. He's been successful at two different stops and he has the kind of personality to possibly handle Arenas. But that's just my gut. It's wide open and like I said, Ernie has kept his cards very close to the vest.
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