Bullets' Lynam welcomes back Cheaney, M. Price Injured duo to return to face Heat tonight


BOWIE -- When asked whether the absence of Chris Webber, Calbert Cheaney and Robert Pack from the lineup had affected his team, Washington Bullets coach Jim Lynam simply pointed to the Chicago Bulls' part of the box score from Monday's game.

"I'm going to take [Scottie] Pippen off [27 points], and I'm going to take [Michael] Jordan off [46]," said Lynam, whose team played the Bulls tough for much of the 116-109 loss. "I'm taking off 73 points."

Tonight in Miami, where the Bullets face the Heat, Lynam will get to do a little addition. Cheaney returns to the lineup after missing 10 games with strained ligaments in his left ankle, and Mark Price returns after missing Monday's game with a sore left foot.

Cheaney was averaging 14.3 points before he injured his ankle Dec. 23 against Seattle. The injury was slow to heal, and Cheaney was put on the injured list Jan. 5.

The team will activate Cheaney today, making room for him by placing Ledell Eackles (sore left leg) on the injured list.

"I'm anxious, and I want to get out there and play again," said Cheaney, who practiced yesterday. "You miss it a little. You can't go out here and help the team contribute, and it gets to you after a while."

The Bullets were able to go 5-5 in Cheaney's absence, mainly because Eackles stepped into the starting lineup and played well. With Eackles hurt, there's a chance that Cheaney might start tonight.

"I'll have to talk to Calbert," said Lynam, adding that the alternative might be to start recently signed Michael Curry. "I would lean toward Calbert, but I want to wait."

Cheaney, who will be playing with a pad taped to his ankle, said he doesn't care how he's used.

"If Jim wants to start me, fine; if not, I'll just go in and do the best I can," he said. "I'm still sore. And I'm a little tired, but that's a part of coming back. Hopefully [today], I'll be in better condition."

Price is hoping the same, after aggravating his left foot while playing three games in four days since making his season debut last Wednesday. He did not play the second half of Saturday's loss in Toronto, and sat out Monday's loss. Though sore after yesterday's practice, Price said he was less sore and was expecting to suit up tonight.

"I have to be smart," Price said. "If it gets like it was the other night, when it was really bothering me, I need to rest a day before I can play. The incision is on the bottom of the foot. I have to get through the pain part of this.

"It's kind of three or four steps forward and one step backward," Price added. "When [back-to-back] games come up, I'll have to play it by ear and see how I feel."

NOTES: Rasheed Wallace, who has picked up his game over the last three weeks, was one of 16 players named to play in the rookie game on Feb. 10, during All-Star Weekend. "I feel regular about it," Wallace said. "It's no real big thing. I have a young career. There will be others." Former Maryland forward Joe Smith of the Golden State Warriors will play for the West. . . . Webber (strained left shoulder) likely will practice tomorrow and play in Friday's game against the New Jersey Nets at the Baltimore Arena. . . . Pack (damaged nerve, right leg) said his injury "is about the same" and gave no timetable on when he'll return.

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Miami Heat

Site: Miami Arena

Time: 7:30

Radio: WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: A rematch of the Nov. 24 game at the Baltimore Arena where the Bullets posted a surprisingly easy 110-94 win over the Heat. Even though C Alonzo Mourning (24.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) came off the injured list, Miami is 1-5 since his return, and takes a five-game losing streak into tonight. This is the Heat's first game at home since the just completed six-game, 11-day road trip. Washington has lost two straight and looks to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since Dec. 23.

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