Wizards 108, Sonics 106

He deserves blame for opening his mouth at the wrong time, but it's time to put a stop to any notions that Gilbert Arenas is what's wrong with this team.  Tonight's game was simply a virtuoso performance.

This one's for Bullets Forever

Like seriously, I can't stress this point enough. Gilbert Arenas was the ONLY reason the Wizards won tonight. In a game the team really needed to have, everyone else took a collective dump. The next-best performance probably came from Jarvis Hayes, and that's just because he didn't play.

Let's run down the list.

  • Antawn Jamison: Ended with 21 points, but shot a poor 7 of 21 from the field, including 10 threes, many of which probably didn't need to be attempted. Was awful defensively, especially on the glass (this is a common theme). Probably his worst game since coming back.
  • DeShawn Stevenson: 1 of 7 from the field, 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist. Did not really play in the fourth quarter. He was that bad
  • Brendan Haywood: A respectable 8 points in only 20 minutes, but was very bad on the defensive glass as well. Probably should have played more, but then again, we say that every day.
  • Andray Blatche: Showed a lot of great flashes, and as Carter mentione in the Wizards chat today, he's becoming a good defender. But there were still too many of those losses in concentration, especially on the defensive glass, where Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, and Rashard Lewis dominated. There was also the missed layup that should have been a dunk. These are all things Andray needs to play through, but despite the final numbers, it was definitely an uneven performance.
  • Darius Songaila: Good offensively, but very, very bad defensively. Rashard Lewis drove by him every time down the stretch, and he was often the one caught in screen and rolls when Lewis or someone else got an open three look. He's a nice sub, but probably should relinquish his crunch-time minutes to Blatche or Haywood.
  • Antonio Daniels: Under no circumstances should you ever take a jump shot. Decent otherwise, but what's with those pullup Js?
  • Roger Mason: After playing so well yesterday, was 1 of 6 today, including 1 of 4 on threes.

Seriously, look at that. The Wizards were outrebounded 55-35 by a team with a negative rebounding margin. Chris Wilcox had 22 rebounds. 22 rebounds! I wouldn't be shocked if he didn't have 22 rebounds in the next 4 games. The Wizards also defended awfully at the end of the game, as it seemed every time they started to create separation, Seattle rattled in an open three-pointer. They shot more three-pointers (31) than free throws (27), and allowed a jump-shooting team like Seattle to get to the line more often.

But Arenas wouldn't let them lose. The 42 points are impressive in their own right, but they're even more incredible when you consider that he played nearly 11 full minutes with 5 fouls. For a guy who is fourth in the league in offensive fouls (and first among guards), that's pretty incredible. He was also doing it on a night where nobody else was, and it was because the rest of the team stuck, not because Arenas was hogging the ball.

Arenas has off shooting games, like he did against Portland. But don't tell me he's killing this team. Not after tonight. He may not be a viable MVP candidate, but he's definitely one of the league's most gifted offensive players, and the Wizards would be nowhere without him.

Update [2007-3-22 2:58:52 by Pradamaster]: Reader Josh300 was at the game, and since I just saw his comment, I'm going to add it onto this post. Thanks for the comment, and I love it when we get firsthand accounts.

...and I pissed off the family next to me in section 111 when I cheered triumphantly at the end when Gilbert drove the land and laid it in as the game clock expired and the backboard lit up. The Wizards looked pretty bad all game. The Sonics destroyed them on the boards, 55-35??!?, and Luke Ridnour was driving at will. At will, people. Gilbert had a quiet 42, although you could see all night that it was going to come down to him saving their necks. When they blew the inbound play at 14 seconds left--getting it to Songalia, it confirmed my thoughts about how sloppy they'd been all night. However, when they got into Gilbert on the next possession (after Lewis hit his free throws), I knew the Wiz were going to win. Jamison played well--showing some poise when they needed it down the stretch. He also kept them ahead in the first half. Daniels was also pretty clutch down the stretch. But let's be honest. This is the Sonics. Without Ray Allen? WFT? This shouldn't have been close at all. It hit me during this game that the Wizards are not contenders. I'm a diehard Wizards fan, but I haven't seen them play much at all this year. I live in Seattle, and really, get all my Wizards info here at Bulletsforever. I read the recaps and critiques here and get my fix. But seeing them live tonight was shocking. They are a sloppy team and lack poise and confidence. Yay Gilbert and all, but that was an ugly game.
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