- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

Gilbert Arenas came out in a boxer’s robe in the pre-game introductions, if only to reflect the newly honed fighting spirit of the Wizards.

It is a spirit the Wizards so desperately want after making two consecutive appearances in the playoffs and finding that being meek around the basket is not good for their basketball health.

It is not going to happen easily, this adjustment.

The Wizards played a team not unlike themselves in the Celtics last night, only the Celtics do not have as many weapons as the Wizards.

The Celtics like to trade baskets with teams. They like to run up and down the floor, as if it were a recreation league game. The Celtics don’t like to do the hard stuff. And too many of their players lack the sturdy body type that results in strong defense.

The Wizards love going against the Celtics. They get an opponent that wants to trade baskets and not push them from their favorite spots on the floor.

So the Wizards defeating the Celtics 124-117 is an indication of only one team’s ability to outshoot the other.

It revealed nothing about the team the Wizards want to be.

They want to be the team that can get the two or three essential stops in the waning minutes of a tight game. They want to be the team that would have won the opening game in Cleveland.

Not that the Wizards losing in that fashion means anything.

Even elite teams lose games just like that.

The Wizards were 10-18 in games decided by six or fewer points last season.

They would deem it a solid step forward if they could flop that record this season.

No game embodied the team’s agony in seemingly winnable affairs than the one in Oklahoma City last season.

Antawn Jamison sank a 20-footer from the left baseline with 0.5 seconds left, which everyone assumed would be the game-winning shot because 0.5 seconds is barely time enough to catch and shoot the ball.

But that was what David West did from the top of the key. He caught the ball, shot it, and that was the game for the Wizards.

The personality of an NBA team, especially a relatively young one, is not revealed in two games.

The Wizards are never going to be the Ben Wallace-led Pistons of the last few seasons.

That is just not who they are.

But they can become a different version of the Suns or Mavericks.

There was no hint of that in the home opener.

The Wizards undoubtedly thought they could play H-O-R-S-E with the visitors and come out the victor.

The winless Celtics are hardly a playoff contender at this point in their rebuilding effort.

The Celtics have dropped their first three games of the season and appear to be sentenced to another hard, long campaign.

The Celtics are careless with the basketball, soft in the middle and have decided to embark on the Sebastian Telfair era.

Telfair eventually may validate the personnel acumen of Danny Ainge.

Or not.

For now, Telfair is a third-year point guard out of a high school in Brooklyn, ill-equipped to contend with someone as offensively skilled as Arenas.

The Wizards apparently did not read the coaches’ scouting report before the game.

You make that deduction from the high number of times Wally Szczerbiak was left open behind the 3-point line.

It might come as a shock to the players, but Szczerbiak really likes shooting the 3-point shot, especially if no one is near him, as was the case on too many occasions, either because of defensive lapses or poor rotations.

The scoring of Paul Pierce and Szczerbiak allowed the Celtics to hang around far longer than they should have.

The sellout crowd was not able to relax until DeShawn Stevenson hit two free throws that pushed the Wizards’ lead to eight points with 24.3 seconds left.

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