- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2006

Gilbert Arenas has never scored like this before. In the past two games, Arenas has put up a career-high 47 against Miami and 44 more against Houston, pushing his average to 29.7 points a game.

And nobody could be more displeased about that than Arenas.

“Really it’s frustrating because I don’t want to score that much because it means that I’m exerting too much energy, and this is a team game,” Arenas said. “We still have about [50] games left to play, and if we keep this up I’m going to burn out.”

The Wizards (12-17) have lost three straight, so Arenas is not exactly excited he’s on pace to have the second-highest scoring average in franchise history, behind only Walt Bellamy at 31.6 for the 1961-62 Chicago Packers.

Arenas is a pure scorer who delights in taking overmatched defenders off the dribble or making jump shots over them. But with the Wizards struggling on defense — having lost 128-113 to the Heat and 123-111 to the Rockets — Arenas may feel he must score as much as possible for his team to have any hope of winning.

And there is truth to that: The Wizards are 0-7 in games in which Arenas has been held under 20 points.

“As talented as Gilbert is he is going to feel like he has to do it by himself, and we have to ease that pressure off of him,” Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. “And you don’t want us to become that type of basketball team.”

Fourth in the league in scoring, Arenas is also logging almost 41 minutes a game, third behind LeBron James and Allen Iverson.

Arenas should have no trouble being selected by Eastern Conference coaches to the All-Star Game for the second straight season. His scoring average, which has increased in each of his five NBA seasons, was 25.5 last season, when the Wizards went 45-37 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Over their past seven games, the Wizards are 3-4 and have allowed 111.1 points a game.

After emphasizing defense in training camp, the Wizards showed signs of improvement early in the season but have dropped off.

“We have regressed. You can’t really argue with that,” Haywood said. “Our team defense is Swiss cheese right now. Any time you are giving up the points we’ve given up over the last seven games, you can’t say anything but negative things about our defense. I can’t think of anything positive.”

Notes — Forward Jared Jeffries did not participate in a spirited practice with a heavy emphasis on — naturally — defense, because of back discomfort. Also, Etan Thomas was excused from practice with the flu. Jeffries is expected to be available for tomorrow’s game at New York. The team is uncertain of Thomas’ availability for that game.

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