- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Washington Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas had a glint in his eyes the other day when he talked about playing against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.

That glint wasn’t there after last night’s 112-105 loss to the 76ers, when all Arenas’ eyes flashed was red.

Iverson scored a season-high 40 points, and Arenas almost matched him with a season-high 36 points and 10 rebounds. But what the Wizards guard will remember most is a fat lip, complements of an errant elbow by Philadelphia reserve center Samuel Dalembert. The blow, which came late in the game, so incensed Arenas that one observer said he attempted to pay Dalembert a visit in the Sixers’ locker room after the game but was thwarted by the 76ers’ Mark Jackson, a former teammate from Golden State.

According to the eyewitness, a shirtless Arenas returned to the Wizards’ locker room after talking to Jackson and Eric Snow. Team owner Abe Pollin came by just in time to see his $64 million free agent return.

Said Philadelphia’s Aaron McKie: “I’ve got no comment. I guess he got hit in the mouth.”

The eyewitness heard Arenas, whose lip was swollen and bleeding, say, “We don’t do that here,” before heading back to Washington’s locker room.

“It was dirty basketball,” Arenas said of Dalembert’s blow. “That was dirty. I mean, we all play dirty sometimes.”

Arenas played perhaps his best game of the season, scoring 23 points in the first half. He struggled after halftime, though, making three of 11 from the floor. He also missed some crucial free throws late in the game. Philadelphia, meanwhile, made 24 of 26 free throws in the second half to put the game away.

“I thought he was at his highest level that he’s played all year,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “It’s a good way to approach the game. He showed some emotions. If he keeps playing like that, that is what we need.”

It wasn’t enough, though, even against short-handed Philadelphia.

Glenn Robinson, acquired over the summer to help Iverson with the scoring load, missed last night’s game with a sprained ankle. Kenny Thomas, whom the 76ers rewarded with a huge contract over the summer, didn’t play because of a lower back injury.

And making matters worse for the 76ers, they lost starting center Derrick Coleman to a strained left knee at halftime.

But McKie stepped up, adding 18 points for Philadelphia, which also got 13 points and 11 assists from Snow.

Larry Hughes contributed a season-high 23 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards. Washington also got 20 points from rookie Jarvis Hayes. Etan Thomas grabbed 10 rebounds.

However, Washington’s bench, which had been a strength so far this season, contributed only 13 points. Meanwhile, Philadelphia got strong showings from backups Dalembert (10 points, five blocks) and Willie Green (10 points).

The victory extended the 76ers’ streak over the Wizards to six games. Philadelphia has won 13 of the last 16 meetings.

The Wizards led most of the night. However, Philadelphia went ahead for good late in the third quarter when Iverson converted a steal into a layup that put the 76ers ahead 79-78 with a little more than a minute to play in the third.

“I think we learned a lesson from a tough team,” Jordan said. “They were short-handed, but their experience down the stretch showed us a team that is where we want to be. They showed a lot of poise at the end.

For the game Philadelphia was 36 of 42 from the free throw line.

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