CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Washington Wizards leading scorer Gilbert Arenas underwent surgery on his left knee on Wednesday and will miss about three months.

Arenas had been experiencing swelling and soreness in the knee which he had surgically repaired late last season. After sitting out the past two games, Arenas underwent an MRI Wednesday morning. He underwent the surgery later in the afternoon.

Team officials say the surgery was a success and Arenas will begin rehabilitation soon.

The 6-foot-4 Arenas is averaging 22.4 points. The Wizards won both games against struggling Portland and Philadelphia without Arenas and were on a five-game winning streak before Wednesday’s game against Charlotte.

“We did win two games in convincing fashion without him, but it wasn’t like it was the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs,” Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. “Playing without Gilbert Arenas is going to hurt this team.”

Arenas began the season by playing as though nothing was wrong, averaging about 40 minutes per game. But after Washington’s third game, he said his knee felt stiff, “like a 5-pound weight is on it.”

He then had excess fluid drained from the knee for the second time in three weeks on Nov. 7. He played the next night, a loss to New Jersey that dropped the Wizards to 0-4, but had a long conversation with Nets star Jason Kidd on the court after the final buzzer. Kidd offered advice about dealing with a return from surgery.

Arenas stayed in the lineup until missing Saturday’s game against Portland, then sitting again Tuesday against Philadelphia.

This whole ordeal has all been a bit new to the three-time All-Star, whose only previous significant injury in the NBA was an abdominal problem that limited him to 55 games in 2003-04.

He finished third in the league in scoring average last season, at 28.4 points, but missed all of April after having knee surgery.

It’s another injury blow to the Wizards, who lost Arenas and Caron Butler to season-ending injuries late last season. Etan Thomas is out this season after undergoing heart surgery, while Oleksiy Pecherov is recovering from a broken ankle.

Haywood said he wouldn’t play against the Bobcats because of a sprained left ankle, leaving Washington with only nine healthy players.

“That’s the business, man,” Haywood said. “Life’s not always fair. He’s out right now and everybody is down about it. Everybody wishes him the best. Right now all we can do is pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery.”

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.

AP-ES-11-21-07 1812EST

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