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Gooden, Stevenson goatee guys
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/1/2008 12:35 AM

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In case anyone is wondering, the ugly beard competition between Bulls forward Drew Gooden and Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson has no limits.

"It might last two or three years," Stevenson said before Friday's game. "But if it gets too ridiculous, I don't think we'll go that far. His is getting a little too wild right now."

It would be difficult to play basketball wearing a ZZ Top-style beard, after all. But Gooden doesn't sound ready to give in.

"It's not annoying," he said. "I'm used to it now. I'm past the scratchy stage the first two weeks. After that, it's all right."

Gooden and Stevenson go all the way back their junior high years playing on the same AAU team. After growing up in Oakland, Gooden moved to Richmond, Calif., while Stevenson is from Fresno.

"Then my junior year, his senior year (in high school), we played each other in the state finals," Stevenson said. "So we've been close friends. He's like family to me."

Neither player had a strong explanation for why the beard-growing contest was launched. Stevenson suggested it was good publicity, while Gooden claimed they were emulating the David Letterman and Conan O'Brien beards grown in support of the recent writers' strike.

"I don't like it. I'm not used to it," said Stevenson, who was ejected from Friday's game in the second quarter for arguing a call. "But people always talk about it. So something good came out of it."

Pacer draws suspension: Pacers forward Danny Granger was given a one-game suspension for hitting Andres Nocioni in the mouth with an elbow during the fourth quarter of the Bulls' victory at Indiana on Wednesday.

The Bulls' bench was up in arms when the play happened, but the referees either didn't see the infraction or they ignored it.

"It's deserved," Bulls coach Jim Boylan said. "That's an automatic one-game suspension. I'm glad the league looked at it, saw it and came to that conclusion."

Duhon returns slowly: Guard Chris Duhon finally saw his first action since the Bulls acquired Larry Hughes. Duhon checked in with 11:17 left in the fourth quarter, but his shirt wasn't tucked into his shorts and the Bulls were given a delay of game.

Since it was their second delay infraction of the night, the Bulls were hit with a technical foul and Washington converted the free throw. Duhon picked up 2 assists in six minutes.

Unity through mockery: A ruckus could be heard coming from the Wizards' locker room immediately following Friday's game. When the doors opened, it turned out the players were watching replays of Andres Nocioni's fourth-quarter dunk over Washington forward Oleksiy Pecherov and needling their teammate thoroughly.