- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

Gilbert Arenas wasn’t about to gloat after his 43-point masterpiece Saturday against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

Shortly after the game, Arenas was more cautionary than ecstatic.

“That was just like when Elton Brand went 14-for-18 against us,” said Arenas, who made 15 of 20 shots. “He couldn’t be stopped, and he didn’t think he could be stopped. I felt the same way. Either way, you can’t spend too much time thinking about those things because the next game is going to come at you so quick.”

In the aftermath of the surprising 15-point victory against the Spurs, the Wizards are playing like a team among the league’s elite. They are 5-1 for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

They have won games with both smothering defense and blistering offense. They have exhibited a deeper bench than they have had in years. Despite that success the Wizards remain cautious as they begin a stretch in which they play six of their next seven games on the road.

“It’s early,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “The Spurs have been on the East Coast, and I don’t want to measure our team as far as predicting how good we are or will be. I just know we are improved.

“We had two nights of good basketball,” Jordan continued. “We came back and bounced back from the loss [to the Los Angeles Clippers] earlier in the week, and that’s all I can tell you about our team right now. We have a deep team. We have guys who execute their roles. We pretty much have a perfect fit with guys coming off the bench with size [and] leadership. We’re defensive minded and offensive minded, we’re balanced and we’re showing it. But it’s early.”

Jordan would not say the Wizards are jelling faster than he expected, but chemistry had been a huge concern during the preseason with so many new faces.

One of those belongs to point guard Antonio Daniels, who earned an NBA title with the Spurs in 1999 and had his best season as a pro last year with Seattle — the team Washington beat by 41 points Friday night.

Needless to say, he enjoyed the weekend’s events. However, the eight-year pro knows now is not the time to be too excited.

“It was a very good weekend for us,” Daniels said. “It’s big because we beat the defending world champs. But in the same breath you just can’t get too high or too low under any circumstances. We’ve got another game on Tuesday against Cleveland. So we can enjoy this, but [tomorrow] it’s back to work.”

Added Arenas: “We can’t come out here and beat the champs and then think we’re better than the champs. We caught them at the end of a road trip, and we’re going to be there at some point. You just have to keep on fighting all the way.”

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