RICHMOND — They got outrebounded 60-45, had five fewer assists than the Grizzlies, even shot worse (Memphis 41.1 percent, Wizards 39.8 percent), but Washington still pulled off the win 101-92.
Gilbert Arenas looked pretty sharp in his first quarter action with five points, seven assists, a steal and two turnovers in 11 minutes of play. And that’s right about what Flip Saunders said before hand that he wanted to limit the guard to.
Randy Foye came in, and it would’ve been a good point to call it a night. But Arenas felt good and wanted to play more. He kept a heated blanket on the knee for a while, then rubbed heating oil on the knee. Seven minutes after he left the game, he was back out there, having convinced Saunders to let him back out there.
Gil wasn’t as effective in the second quarter, notching just one assist in 5 minutes, 18 seconds of play. He missed his only shot attempt of the quarter, and went 0-for-4 at the line. Third quarter saw him go 0-for-2 with two assists in 7-1/2 minutes.
So what do you take from this game if you’re Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards? I guess the good news is he was able to play 24 minutes without any physical limitations. His knee obviously is fine, judging by his quickness and the way he lept over the scorer’s table.
You could tell he was making a real effort to set up his teammates and get them going. All of the Wizards that played alongside Arenas (other than Haywood) had double digit scoring nights. There were times when Arenas was probably too passive, turning down scoring opportunities to set up his teammates.
But as Saunders said, he’ll continue to get more comfortable with the pace of the games again, he’ll eventually start attacking offensively. Saunders wrote Arenas’ six missed free throws (and his teammtes’ misses as well) off as tired legs from long training camp and abundant practices.
The Wizards have to be happy with what they got out of Jamison (20 points, eight rebounds), Butler (15 points, six rebounds), Young (11 points, two rebounds and a steal), Foye (14 points, three assists, three steals), Blatche (13 points, eight rebounds) and even JaVale McGee’s eight points, three rebounds in spot duty. Saunders said he was happy with Haywood’s play (six points, seven rebounds, three blocks), but that he felt like defensively the team didn’t give him enough help, and that offensively he would have liked to see him get more touches. But all in all, the Wizards come from this game without any glaring concern areas.
The team heads back to the District where they will practice at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.