- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Gilbert Arenas yesterday addressed the latest in a mounting list of complaints about the officiating in the Washington Wizards’ first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland coach Mike Brown said Arenas was getting to the line far too often after attempting 17 free throws in Sunday’s 106-96 victory by Washington in Game 4. Through the first four games, Arenas has taken 50 free throws and made 42. LeBron James is 29 of 42.

“I get to the free throw line,” Arenas said. “It’s not the first time I shot 17. If you want to keep me off the line, tell your team to stop hacking. There is a rule that if he goes in and you hit him really hard, he won’t come in there again. Well, not me. If I know you are fouling, I’m coming inside because I know those are free throws, baby. I don’t shy away from the contact.”

Arenas on Hughes

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Arenas is kidding, but yesterday he seemed to be serious when asked what it’s like going head-to-head against former teammate Larry Hughes.

Arenas described a conversation with Hughes during one of the games in this series.

“Hey, Larry,” Arenas said. “What’s your role in the offense?”

Imitating Hughes, Arenas then replied, “Man, I’m just bringing in the plays.”

It probably has been a rough season for Hughes, who had a career year last season (22.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists) for the Wizards before signing with Cleveland.

Hughes led the league in steals and was named to the all-defensive first team, but he hasn’t been as good this season. Injuries limited him to just 36 regular-season games, in which he averaged just 15.5 points.

Arenas said yesterday the Cavaliers’ offense does not cater to Hughes’ skills.

“If you look at him, that whole offense is LeBron,” Arenas said. “No one else. [Larry’s] become a spot-up shooter, and that’s not what he does. Here he stayed on the right side of the court, and I stayed on the left side of the court — no problems. In Cleveland they want to play halfcourt unless they get out on the break. There aren’t that many opportunities where Larry is going to be free.”

Nothing new

Coach Eddie Jordan said the key to the Wizards’ comeback in Game 4 was his decision to let the team play and for him to back off and minimize his coaching.

“He’s done it before,” Arenas said. “If you look at a lot of those games last year when we were down by double figures and we wound up winning, that’s usually what was happening.”

Is that coaching?

“Yup,” Arenas said. “Every decision is a coaching move, especially if it’s coming from the coach.”

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