- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 13, 2004

Seen and heard last night at Philips Arena in Atlanta:

ARENAS IN GOOD COMPANY — Gilbert Arenas is one of seven players in the league who have played at least 37 games and are averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. The others are Orlando’s Tracy McGrady, Seattle’s Ray Allen, Cleveland’s LeBron James, Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett, Boston’s Paul Pierce and the Los Angles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan attributes Arenas’ success to hard work, which he continues to display even though the Wizards likely will fall far short of his playoff prediction.

“He loves to play. He’s competitive,” Jordan said. “After he got 40 the other night, he came over to the gym early this morning and shot around before practice. He was there an hour and a half before everybody else shooting. He’s got the fire. He’s got the drive.”

Jordan said Arenas, who has had some quirky moments this season, is showing signs of maturity late in the season.

“He’s a plus,” Jordan said. “He’s showing a lot of composure out there. He can have a quick fuse. You know that. But he hates to lose. He’s controlled himself, and that is a big growth stage that I see there for him. And it’s important for me and him to understand that.”

NEVER GOOD TIME TO LOSE — Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge caused a stir last week when he suggested it might be in his team’s best interest to finish out of the playoffs and in the lottery.

Although the Wizards likely are headed for the lottery, Jordan said he never would suggest missing the playoffs is a good thing.

“I never think of that,” Jordan said. “I don’t want my players to think it. We’re still going back to possession by possession by possession. We want to be as good as we can be at both ends of the floor.”

John N. Mitchell

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