Tom Knott: Arenas returns the dead to life

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Gilbert Arenas is ever the showman with the wide grin on his face that could light up a crowd of zombies.

And “Night of the Living Dead” is what the throng has come to be during this abysmal season.

So there was Arenas on Saturday night, reviving the numb looks in his midst, giving the season-ticket holders of the Wizards every reason to renew their packages next season.

He played with an efficiency and flair that has been missing this season.

No, he did not lead the Wizards to victory. That would have been too perfect, unreasonable to expect of a team that had two backups in its starting lineup and is stuck in the clutches of a nightmarish season.

But it is not too hard to imagine the Wizards winning that game if Arenas were in something approximating top form and able to play 35 to 40 minutes.

As it was, the Wizards nearly pulled out a game against an opponent that was fighting for its playoff life.

And that was mostly because of the way Arenas managed the game.

You almost forget how easy Arenas can make the game look, how effortlessly he gets easy baskets for his teammates.

You appreciated Arenas even more after Javaris Crittenton, who looks to be a keeper, was unable to hit Caron Butler with a pass in stride on a fast break in the first half.

A number of the talk-show gabbers questioned Arenas’ decision to return to the court at this late date in a lost season.

But there he was looking fluid and comfortable, doing what he could to dispel the doubts going into the offseason.

No matter how hard he practices, no matter how many times he plays in five-on-five pick-up games, Arenas knew there was no way to duplicate the conditions of an NBA game.

He had to come back to start seeing where he is, even if he vacillated on his return right up until game time.

What is in his head is all part of it, too. When you have undergone three surgeries on your left knee in two years, you are sentenced to being a psychological mess, to wondering whether the knee is going to hold up this time.

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