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Wizards 112, Pacers 96

Forget about the game, it's really not important at this point.  The Pacers are absolutely awful, and the Wizards eventually did exactly what they should do with an awful team.  

Seriously, Indiana's second-best player is probably Troy Murphy.  Troy Murphy!  And their best player has been playing hurt all year.  It really is a shame that Jermaine O'Neal has to deal with all that crap.  I'd say they need to start over, but they just dealt for two role players with star long-term contracts.  Great first step, guys!

There are two far more important stories that came out of this game.

First, of course, is Caron Butler.  He made his first shot of the game, labored through a half, and then shut it down, telling Ivan Carter "It's going to be a while".  Obviously, this kind of shoots down my "he's not okay, but he's not not okay" theory, but I'm stil a little confused about this thing.

Here's what he said about it after the game:

""I tried to gut it out," said Butler, who finished with two points and two rebounds. "Eric told me to give them the word if it wasn't feeling right at any time. I hit a shot and the shot felt great, the rhythm felt great but then it stiffened up on me, stiffened up a lot and when I sat on the bench for a minute, it really stiffened up and I just called it."

The argument is that, if Butler sits out a couple games, he'll be back strong when it matters most.  But if that's the case, why would the injury get worse when he sits out?  Also, frankly, with the Heat breathing down our neck and the rest of the top tier in the East finally getting it together, it matters most now.  

It's become clear to me that he's in pain, but what exactly is this injury?  It sounds more serious than a contusion, but repeated tests have shown that there's no structural damage.  Is it a strain, like what Antawn Jamison had?  I'm no trainer, but it seems wierd that a knee injury suffered by a direct blow would feel worse while resting it.  It bothers me that the Wizards training staff has continually misdiagnosed injuries, going all the way back to Darius Songaila's back.  Butler's clearly hurting, but with the season really in the balance now, it would be nice to know exactly what's the problem.

The other major piece of news is that Eddie Jordan is trimming his rotation, and the odd man out is Andray Blatche.  Wonderful.  Eddie will continue to give minutes to a useless Michael Ruffin instead of injecting much-needed athleticism and versatility to the Wizards bench.  If Caron is seriously injured, Blatche's ability to play three positions is going to be incredibly important, especially because the only other real option at small forward is Jarvis Hayes.  Instead, we're going to see a lot of the "veteran toughness" and "hustle" of Michael Ruffin, and it simply doesn't benefit the team in any way.  

With all this being said, at least the Wizards finally won comfortably against a bad team.  Arenas is playing really well recently, and Antawn has played phenomenally since the injury.  It seems like Antawn is shifting into another gear, as if he knows he needs to become a better scoring option with Butler struggling.  He's scored at least 18 in every game since his injury, and his ability to run the two-man game with Arenas is making Agent Zero better.  Songaila was also big last night, and AD is finally over his little mini-slump.  

But without Caron, the Wizards are in trouble.  Let's hope the injury is real, and it's properly diagnosed.