Wizards' Martell Webster straining to finish out season

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Forward is hampered by abdominal injury

Martell Webster probably has done enough to convince the Wizards to bring him back in 2013-14. But it won't help matters if he misses the final three games of the season.

The pain of a nagging abdominal strain forced Webster to remove himself in the third quarter of the Wizards' 103-98 loss to Miami on Wednesday, the second time in the past month he has had to leave a game early. Webster and Trevor Ariza (sore left knee), who has missed the last two games, are both in doubt for Friday's home finale against the Philadelphia 76ers (31-47). That adds to a casualty list headlined by Bradley Beal, who was shut down last week with a stress injury in his right fibula.

"Of course I want to play the last three games," Webster said. "But will it happen? I don't know. I'm going to exhaust every avenue until that point."

Up next
76ers at Wizards
When » Friday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » CSN

Backup point guard A.J. Price has been playing through a groin injury, and he came off the bench to match his career high with 23 points against the Heat. But defense remains the primary concern for the Wizards (29-50), who have lost three games in a row, allowing their opponents to shoot a combined 52.2 percent overall and 46.6 percent from 3-point range.

Webster (11.4 ppg) said he has been hampered by the injury since a 96-88 loss to the New York Knicks at Verizon Center on March 1. It has caused his efficiency to decline substantially even though he scored a career-high 34 points in a 127-105 blowout of Phoenix on March 16. After shooting 56.4 percent from 3-point range over 12 games in February to put himself among the top five perimeter shooters in the NBA, Webster has shot just 37.5 percent from beyond the arc since.

"It's super sore," Webster said after the Heat game, in which he had 12 points and four steals in 26 minutes. "It's one of those times where I got to kind of shut it down. My arms were moving faster than my legs. That was a sign. I didn't want to make it any worse, so I decided to come out."

Webster also left Washington's 101-92 loss at Golden State on March 23 prematurely and then missed the next two games.

The 26-year-old small forward, who is a free agent this summer, has had a resurgent campaign in Washington, where he landed on a one-year contract after two injury-diminished seasons Minnesota. After Webster's scoring burst against the Suns, Wizards point guard John Wall said he already had spoken to team owner Ted Leonsis about bringing Webster back next season. The question right now is whether Webster will bow out of this season early.

"I'm the type of person, in all means of life, that's going to exhaust every avenue before I decide to make a final decision," Webster said. "Where my mind is, where my focus is, we'll see how it feels and continue to do the rehab regimen that I've been doing. But I'm going to exhaust every avenue."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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