Flip Saunders called Brendan Haywood’s injury a “slight sprain” to his right ankle, and said that in a normal game situation, the center probably would have come back into tonight’s game. But the Wizards will proceed with caution, and Saunders said it’s unlikely that he will play Sunday in Toronto.
Haywood was limping pretty badly when he left the locker room in street clothes, and declined an interview request, but his teammates didn’t seem overly concerned.
Said Andray Blatche, “When Brendan went down, I’m not going to lie. I was scared. I thought, ‘Oh, not again.’ But they said it’s a mild ankle sprain, he should be alright. Should be back in practice tomorrow, competing, helping us get ready for this year.”
Blatche had himself a decent game tonight with 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. He did have five personal fouls, however. Fellow young big man JaVale McGee also had a strong game with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting and three rebounds and a block in 20 minutes.
The other main development of the night was the Jekyll and Hyde play of Gilbert Arenas. A day after Flip stressed the need for him to come out with more aggression, Arenas didn’t take a single shot in the first quarter, passing up open looks and instead dishing.
Then he came out in the second half and shot 6-for-6 and had five assists. He finished with 12 points and nine assists and probably would’ve had a double-double had he not had three turnovers at the end of the third quarter. (He had five on the game and for the preseason has eight).
“You know Gil likes to play mind games,” DeShawn Stevenson said. “But, you see when he’s attacking and stuff, it’s hard to guard him. We just need more of that before the regular season comes.”
Saunders talked to Arenas during halftime, however, and told him to scrap the passive play, and start attacking. A few other Wizards told Arenas to get going as well.
“We all encouraged him,” Saunders said. “I told him at halftime, if he’s open and doesn’t shoot, the next guy he passes to is probably going to be covered. Very rarely will two guys be open on the same play. He needs to get aggressive so our guys get used to playing in that type of situation.”
Arenas got going, but that didn’t help the Wizards defend any better. His offense will be important to the Wizards’ success this season, but is it possible that Brendan Haywood because of his defense will give Arenas a run for his money as MVP?