- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gilbert Arenas needed a half to shake off some of his rust.

After a shaky first half, Arenas scored nine points on 4-for-5 shooting in the third quarter to help Washington defeat Indiana 85-77 in the preseason finale for both teams last night.

Arenas missed the Wizards’ loss to Houston on Sunday with an eye abrasion and had missed two other preseason games due to groin soreness.

He had struggled with his shooting throughout the preseason and had a rough first half, going 2-for-10 from the field, scoring seven points.

“I was a little winded and a little off rhythm, off beat,” he said of his first-half effort. “It just comes with playing games and getting your legs under you.”

Arenas found his shot in the third quarter and finished with 16 points. He declared himself healthy for the regular season.

“I can see now,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a problem, but now everything is fine, and I’m ready to go.”

Washington (3-5) ended a two-game losing streak. The Pacers (5-3) tied for the best preseason record in the Eastern Conference despite the loss.

Stephen Jackson led Indiana with 18 points and Ron Artest added 13, but the Pacers had 23 turnovers and shot just 42.5 percent from the field. Indiana coach Rick Carlisle didn’t like the fact that his team played one of its worst preseason games right before the Nov. 2 season opener.

“We didn’t have one of our better games as a team,” Carlisle said. “Too many turnovers and too many points off turnovers. We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do. We’ve got some time, fortunately.”

Reserves played most of the fourth quarter for both teams. Caron Butler scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the final period.

Butler has started the past three years, two for Miami and one for the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s not fully comfortable with his role as a backup.

“I just know I have to do it,” he said. “It’s what the coach wants me to do. I’m not used to it, but I’m not the type of player to complain.”

The score was tied at 71 in the fourth quarter before Washington’s Brendan Haywood made two free throws to give the Wizards the lead for good. Butler scored the next four baskets for Washington to put the game out of reach.

Indiana center David Harrison played for the first time this preseason after missing the first seven games with an abdominal strain. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Two of Indiana’s centers didn’t play. Jeff Foster sat out with a sore left Achilles’ and Scot Pollard missed the game with a strained left calf.

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