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Injured Webber questions doctors Told painful shoulder is OK, he separates it


TORONTO -- There was no hiding the hurt look on Chris Webber's face as he walked out of the downtown waterfront hotel on his way to a local hospital. And when he spoke there was no hiding the fact that Webber, his left arm in a sling, was upset. Beyond upset.

Webber, considered the foundation of a young Washington Bullets team, had woken up Wednesday with pain in his left shoulder -- the one he separated last season. The next day, he was scrimmaging with his teammates, however, after being examined by team doctors who said X-rays of the shoulder were negative.

But while attempting to make a steal in the first quarter of Saturday's preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, Webber again separated the shoulder, and he is out indefinitely.

"I'm disappointed in the fact that I said it was hurt -- I knew it was hurting," Webber said. "This is disappointing in that this is what doctors get paid for."

Webber will be examined today by Dr. Steve Haas, one of the team physicians who saw him Wednesday. The club hopes to have a time frame for Webber's return after the examination.

Last night, instead of preparing for tonight's preseason game against the expansion Toronto Raptors, the forward was on a plane back home, the latest victim for what has become a franchise hampered by injuries.

With guard Mark Price already set to miss the entire preseason with a sore left heel, the injury to Webber -- who planned to get a second medical opinion but didn't get around to it -- leaves the Bullets without two of their most important elements.

"It's frustrating from a team standpoint, but first of all it's frustrating to Chris," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam, who hopes to have Price back for the season opener Nov. 3. "To have two of your top guys sustain injuries at this stage, it can be a little demoralizing to a team. Our guys will just have to come out and respond now."

And while a team with such high expectations for the coming season just three weeks ago attempts to respond, Webber, who recently signed a six-year, $57 million contract, fears an absence similar to the 19 games of last season. Webber stood upright and screamed loudly as the shoulder came out of socket with 2:04 left in the first quarter.

"There was a real sense of concern for Chris," Lynam said. "He was in severe pain when he went to the bench."

In the locker room, a Pacers team doctor was able to slip the shoulder back in place.

Webber, who may have aggravated the shoulder Tuesday in a brief scuffle with the Chicago Bulls' Luc Longley, said the separation on Saturday was more painful than the original injury last December against the Golden State Warriors, when a fall to the floor caused the separation. But the real pain, according to Webber, will be the time he'll miss -- especially with the warning last week. When he hurt the shoulder in December, doctors said the rehabilitation would take a year. Obviously, the latest injury is a setback to that timetable.

"I can't describe the feeling," Webber said. "It makes me want to cry."

Because of the injury, the Bullets weren't exactly in the mood to celebrate their 109-99 win over the Pacers, the team's first in three preseason games. The three players who will have to carry the load in Webber's absence all had good games, with Juwan Howard scoring 19 points, Don MacLean 17 and rookie Rasheed Wallace 15.

"Our guys did a good job in responding after what happened," Lynam said. "Now, we're in a situation where Rasheed is going to have to come along a lot quicker."

The Bullets may add another frontcourt body, although it's an addition they'd prefer not to have. The trade that sent Kevin Duckworth to the Milwaukee Bucks may be voided because the 7-foot center has a sore right knee.

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