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Arenas: Ball not so bad

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Even Vince Carter admitted the strange lack of a bounce on his game-tying 3-pointer wouldn't have been the same with the old leather ball.

"If it would've hit like that? Heck no," Carter said after the New Jersey Nets' 105-93 overtime win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. "No way."

The new synthetic ball made a thud-like bounce before going through the basket. The old ball probably would have bounced long.

But Washington's Gilbert Arenas isn't bemoaning that fact. In fact, Arenas, who said earlier this season he didn't like the ball too much, believes shooters like himself will benefit more from the new ball in the long run even though it gets more slippery than the old one.

"Closer to up than down," Arenas said yesterday when asked whether he would give the new ball a thumbs up.

"The new ball doesn't slip out of my hand as easily -- it's a shooter's ball," Arenas continued. "It's easier for grip and guiding. And if it hits the rim, it's just going to die and go in, just like Vince Carter's shot. If it's leather, that means Vince Carter's ball would have bounced to halfcourt. For shooters, it's giving you all those lucky baskets."

And, of course, had Carter's shot not gone in, the Wizards wouldn't have had to endure the humiliation of being outscored 18-6 in overtime and would be 4-2 instead of 3-3 heading into tonight's crucial game against New York (2-6) at Madison Square Garden.

That would have left Washington in better shape entering a stretch in which it will play five of its next six games on the road, where the Wizards have not won this season.

After tonight, the Wizards will fly to Detroit for a game with the Pistons on Friday, and then they will return home for a game against Cleveland at Verizon Center on Saturday. Then it's back on the road, where they will play a back-to-back in Dallas and Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, have Thanksgiving off and close the trip with a game next Friday at Memphis.

"It's going to be a tough stretch for us early on," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "We have struggled on the road -- most teams do -- but we played some good games on the road already at Cleveland and Orlando. We've been doing some things right. We were right in those games. Now we've got to get some on the road."

While the Wizards have yet to win on the road, it's not as if they have been completely outclassed. Both of their losses have been by three points, and each was decided at the end.

"We have executed well enough to be very much in those games at the end," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "So we're feeling pretty good. Now we've got to go out on a journey and see if we can get a couple."