Gilbert Arenas says there is nothing new about the constant double teams he’s facing this season. He saw them last season, especially after he and Antawn Jamison were named All-Stars.
But following the Wizards’ fifth consecutive loss — a 91-83 defeat to Orlando on Wednesday — Arenas admitted the loss of Larry Hughes to Cleveland during the offseason has made his job harder.
“After the All-Star break, I was getting the same double teams that I’m getting this year, but I’ve gotten doubled for most of my career,” Arenas said. “With last year’s team, with all the firepower we had, it was easier to get my shots. It’s harder for me right now.”
And it has been especially difficult for Arenas during the five-game skid, which began right after he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Teams are clearly putting more pressure on Arenas, forcing him to either beat the double team or give up the ball.
During the last five games that strategy has worked for Wizards’ opponents. Following his 6-for-19 outing against the Magic, Arenas is now 36-for-98 from the floor (36.7 percent) during the skid. His scoring average during the stretch is 24.6 — more than two points below his season average (26.7).
Arenas has passed out of the double teams, averaging 6.4 assists during the losing streak, but the extra pressure also has resulted in 4.6 turnovers a game.
The good news is no one is panicking in the Washington locker room. While they all believe they can play better, the Wizards (5-6) are trying to work new players into the rotation, and they are still getting used to playing together.
“Right now we’re trying to adjust lineups, to see who plays well with each other and right now we’re not getting it done as a team,” Arenas said. “There is nothing to panic about. It’s something that every team goes through. We just have to bounce back. Once we bounce back out of it everything is smooth sailing, we hope.”
But ending their current losing streak tonight will not be easy. Their opponent, the Detroit Pistons, own a 12-game winning streak against the Wizards.
Playing perhaps as well as they have at any point under former coach Larry Brown — even better offensively — the Pistons have lost just one game this season under new coach Flip Saunders.
Arenas knows his team will not be favored, but he also feels the Wizards are due.
“Right now they are probably the best team in the league, and you know they are going to be ready to play,” he said. “Going against them, there’s no room for errors because you know what they are going to try to do. And if you don’t try your best to stop it, they are going to embarrass you.”