In the midst of their longest losing streak in three years, the Washington Wizards try for their first win in seven games when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Washington (39-39) managed to clinch a playoff spot earlier in the week, but the Wizards have been devastated by injuries. They had already lost leading scorer Gilbert Arenas to a torn meniscus, and after third-leading scorer Caron Butler went down with a fractured hand April 1, dropped six straight for their longest slide since a seven-game losing streak from March 5-16, 2004.

Neither player is expected to return unless Washington advances deep into the playoffs.

"We're playing with a fairly new team and we're building something from almost the foundation," coach Eddie Jordan said after a 85-82 defeat to Miami on Wednesday. "We have to be patient with it, but at the same time, we are correcting our mistakes."

Washington averages 105.2 points per game but has been held below that mark in five of the six losses. It's been even worse over the past four games, with the Wizards scoring less than 95 in three of them.

The Wizards been competitive during the losing streak despite their sputtering offense, with five of the defeats coming by eight points or fewer.

"Being close in games doesn't count for much," center Brendan Haywood said after watching the Heat clinch the Southeast Division with the win. "We have been close in all our games since our guys have been out. We just need to continue to work hard, continue to fight each other and believe in what we do."

Washington had led the Southeast for much of the season, but its slide left it unable to keep up with surging Miami.

Following Friday's game, the Wizards face Chicago on Sunday, Orlando on Tuesday and close the regular season Wednesday against the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse - a tough final stretch for a depleted team looking to build some momentum going into the playoffs.

Washington is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just ahead of seventh-place New Jersey.

"We still have to finish the season on a positive note," Haywood said. "We don't want to go into the playoffs on an 0-for-note. That is not the way you want to start things off."

This will be the fourth and final meeting between the Wizards and Hawks. After dropping the first two contests on the road, Atlanta (29-49) won 100-97 at home March 7, sparking a four-game winning streak that tied its longest run of the season.

Since that stretch, the Hawks have lost 10 of 13, although they've won two of three after Tuesday's 104-96 victory over Boston. Tyronn Lue, who missed 24 games with a strained groin and sore left hamstring, had 26 points and 10 assists while Zaza Pachulia added 22 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta.

"Lue is starting to move like the Lue of old again," said coach Mike Woodson, whose Hawks will finish with their third straight losing record under him and eighth straight overall. "He's getting his legs back under him after being out so long."

Lue, averaging 11.0 points per game, scored 24 in a 109-104 overtime win over Philadelphia on Sunday. He's a combined 20-of-35 (57.1 percent) from the floor the last two games.


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