The Washington Wizards haven't used injuries as an excuse to fall out of contention in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Despite getting even more bad news about one of their top players over the weekend, they're not about to start now.

After learning Gilbert Arenas will need at least another week before he's ready to play, the Wizards go for their seventh win in eight games on Tuesday when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.

Washington (36-33) has been plagued by injuries all season, having played 20 games without All-Star forward Caron Butler (hip) and every game without last season's starting center Etan Thomas (heart surgery).

Of all of the team's medical issues, however, the loss of Arenas has likely had the most dramatic effect on the Wizards' season.

Arenas, Washington's leading scorer from each of the last four seasons, first had surgery on his left knee last April. He rushed his rehabilitation, and needed surgery again in November after playing in the first eight games of the season.

The three-time All-Star was hoping to play in his first game since Nov. 16 on Sunday, but missed the Wizards' 95-83 win over Detroit after learning he had not been cleared by team doctors.

"I was ready," Arenas said. "But they went out there with a fishing pole and yanked me back."

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said Arenas probably won't be able to play for at least another week.

"He wants to test his whole body in an NBA game, and the doctors said he's not ready and it's good for all parties to wait and see once another week has gone by to see where he is," Jordan said.

Despite Arenas' continued absence, Washington shot 52.8 percent against one of the top defensive teams in the league for its sixth win in seven games. In that stretch, the Wizards have beaten Cleveland, Orlando and Detroit - three of the four teams ahead of them in the East.

"When we play good teams, we step up," said guard DeShawn Stevenson, who scored 12 points Sunday. "That says a lot. When the playoffs come, we're going to have to play a good team like that."

The Trail Blazers (37-34) could also be looking forward to a playoff berth if they were in the East, but they're in 10th place in the more competitive West with little chance of catching up to the eighth spot - currently held by Golden State, which is 6 1/2 games ahead of Portland.

The Blazers' playoff hopes took another hit on Monday night, when they lost 97-84 at Seattle while losing second-year forward LaMarcus Aldridge to a sprained right ankle. Aldridge, averaging 24.0 points while shooting 57.7 percent from the field in his last nine full games, is uncertain for Tuesday.

"We'll just have to see where he's at and what he can do tomorrow," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.

If Aldridge can't play, Washington forward Antawn Jamison could take advantage. Jamison, a key to Washington's ability to overcome adversity this season, is scoring 21.8 points per game - his highest average since 2002-03 with Golden State - and averaging a career-best 10.4 rebounds.

The All-Star forward had 24 points and 12 rebounds Sunday, and is averaging 27.6 points and 10.6 boards while shooting 52.1 percent in his last five games.

Portland's lone All-Star, meanwhile, has struggled lately. Second-year guard Brandon Roy has been held to 15.3 points and 35.4 percent shooting in his last four games.

Roy had 12 points and went 2-for-8 from the field as the Blazers lost 109-90 to the Wizards on Nov. 17 at Washington. Jamison had 30 points and 11 boards in that contest.


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