Golden State (14-16) at Washington (8-21)

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  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Jan 2, 2004
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As a member of the Golden State Warriors last season, Gilbert Arenas had the best game of his career against the Washington Wizards.

The third-year guard hopes his first game against his old team will help shake off some rust following an injury, as the Wizards host the struggling Warriors.

Arenas, the league’s most improved player last season with the Warriors, signed a six-year, $65 million contract with the Wizards in July.

Arenas had missed 14 of the Wizards’ previous 15 games with an abdominal injury, before being activated Tuesday. He played in Washington’s 83-73 loss to the Atlanta Hawks and finished with 14 points on 5-for-19 shooting, three assists and four turnovers.

“I knew it was going to be a rough one for me, trying to get the timing that I had before,” said Arenas, who had a career-high 41 points last season as he helped the Warriors beat the Wizards 113-107 on March 23.

Washington could use a performance like that from Arenas, who is averaging 19.6 points, 5.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 15 games this season. The Wizards tied a franchise record for fewest wins in December with two.

“This is certainly a test of wills that carries over to my personal life,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “It’s a test of professionals, individuals and us as a team.”

Golden State has had its own problems, losing three straight.

The Warriors lost the opener of a five-game road trip Wednesday, 88-70 to the New Jersey Nets.

Golden State has lost four straight on the road, losing those games by an average margin of 19.8 points.

“I think we have to take care of some things and regain our competitive edge,” Warriors forward Troy Murphy said.

Murphy has come off the bench for eight straight games after starting 79 times last season. He says his conditioning is fine two weeks after his return from a torn tendon in his right foot.

Warriors forward Brian Cardinal left with 7:10 to play Wednesday, breaking his nose after being hit in the face. His status for Friday’s game is uncertain.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 31): Warriors - 5th place (tied), 8 GB, Pacific Division. Wizards - 6th place, 8 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Warriors - F Mike Dunleavy, F Clifford Robinson, C Erick Dampier, G Jason Richardson, G Nick Van Exel. Wizards - F Jarvis Hayes, F Jared Jeffries, C Etan Thomas, G Larry Hughes, G Arenas.

TEAM LEADERS: Warriors - Richardson, 17.8 ppg; Dampier, 11.3 rpg; Van Exel, 5.6 apg. Wizards - Arenas, 19.6 ppg and 5.3 apg; Thomas, 7.4 rpg.

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Warriors, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: March 23; Warriors, 113-107. At Oakland, Calif., the Warriors shot 45 percent (10-for-22) from 3-point range.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Warriors - 4-10 on the road; Wizards - 4-8 at home.

INJURIES: Warriors - C Adonal Foyle (knee); F Popeye Jones (knee); C Evan Eschmeyer (knee); G Pepe Sanchez (ankle); F Cardinal (nose). Wizards - G Jerry Stackhouse (knee).

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