- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2006

The way Gilbert Arenas sees it, his carelessness with the basketball goes all the way back to his days at Grant High School in Van Nuys, Calif.

Back then, as much as it does now, the game came easy to Arenas. But unfortunately, so did the turnovers — not a good for a point guard.

The No. 4 scorer in the NBA this season at 28.4 points a game, Arenas doesn’t like the fact he’s ranked even higher in turnovers — second — at 3.9 a game.

“That is a jinx on me,” Arenas said. “At the beginning of the season I looked at the turnover ratio, and I was No. 30. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not in the top five.’ The next five games six, seven, seven, six. Now I’m back in the top five, and I’m thinking, ‘This is terrible.’”

Friday night’s game left Arenas smiling, not because he had a game-high 33 points and dished out five assists as the Wizards beat the New Orleans Hornets for their sixth win in eight games but because it was his first turnover-free game of the season.

That was two games removed from a one-turnover effort in a rout of Philadelphia. In the blowout, Arenas posted a season-high 12 assists and displayed a cool head. He didn’t force things, and even though he was on the court with Allen Iverson, the league’s second-leading scorer, he never looked as if he was interested in scoring points at the cost of team unity.

“That’s part of his maturing as a player,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “It’s a part of the process, and it’s a good thing.”

Arenas will try to continue his recent trend of judicious playmaking today when the Wizards (18-20) play host to the Memphis Grizzlies (23-15) at MCI Center.

Turnovers are a funny statistic, of course. The players committing them the most often are among the best in the league and almost always are point guards. Reigning MVP Steve Nash leads the league in assists (11.4) and turnovers (4.1).

And right behind Arenas are, in order, Steve Francis, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce and LeBron James. Quite simply, it is hard to be featured prominently in a team’s offense and not have big turnover numbers.

Arenas understands that but thinks he knows how to cut back on his turnovers.

“I’ve got to get a lot smarter in making my decisions,” Arenas said. “I’m trying to stay away from the long passes, but it’s so tempting because it’s an easy basket for my teammates. For some reason, I’ve always been careless making my passes, going all the way back to high school.

“One of these days I’m going to have a nice assist-to-turnover ratio,” he continues. “I just don’t think it’s going to happen this year.”

Note — Reserve center Etan Thomas, who left the team before the Wizards’ Jan. 18 game at Orlando after receiving the news his grandmother had died, did not practice yesterday. His status for tonight’s game is not certain.

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