I missed good parts of this game because of family obligations, so this will be brief. However, I have to get one thing off my chest before we get to the stats.
Can we please refrain from writing Gilbert Arenas' basketball eulogy?
Last night certainly wasn't one of Gilbert's best nights. He didn't play absolutely terribly like he did the last time the Wizards came to Miami, but he certainly wasn't great. I thought he played very solidly in the first half (only two turnovers, efficient, etc) and pretty poorly in the third quarter on defense. He then sat out the beginning of the fourth quarter as Earl Boykins helped lead the Wizards, and with Boykins playing so well, Flip Saunders kept Boykins in until the very end.
I understand the tendency to worry about Gilbert. He has not looked good all season. But let's be honest, this scenario is exactly what everyone on the Wizards had in mind, Arenas included. They all knew he would take some time to get his timing back and play injury-free. That's why the Wizards traded the fifth pick for two scorers. That's why Ernie Grunfeld signed Boykins in the first place. That's why Arenas himself was so upset last weekend. As we talked about on last week's podcast, part of Gilbert's frustration is happening because he knows he needs his teammates to pick up for him, and prior to this week, they largely hadn't. Now, they are, and suddenly, we want to spin this as a "what's wrong with Gilbert" situation?
Again, I get the tendency, but I'd rather be happy that we no longer need to rely on Arenas to bail us out of everything. We can now win games against solid competition with Nick Young leading the way on offense and defense, with Boykins running the show during key spots and Jamison doing his thing. Arenas' production will improve down the road (hopefully), but for now, he needs help. Help he's finally getting.
As for the claim that Arenas must not be very good if the team plays better during stretches ... a poster on Real GM made a great point. What about the case of Chris Paul? Right now, the Hornets are 4-2 with Darren Collison starting and Paul out injured, after going 3-7 with Paul healthy. This could easily be an indictment on Paul, on how the Hornets' offense flows better with him out of the game. But of course, it isn't, because it's Chris Paul. In the long run, the Hornets will get Chris Paul back performing healthy. In the short term, though, Paul and the Hornets needed to see that Paul doesn't always have to carry the load.
It's the same with Arenas, with a more serious injury tied in. It's concerning that he isn't taking over games yet, but in the long run, it benefits the team for him not to carry the entire load in November. If he's still like this in March, get back to me. For now, I don't think it really pays to be concerned as long as the Wizards are winning.
Four Factors (Bold=very good | Italics=very bad)
Snap Reaction: Wow, the lack of free throws on both sides is pretty jarring. Credit Nick Young for keeping Dwyane Wade off the free throw line.
Highest individual plus/minus: Andray Blatche and Earl Boykins (+14 in 18:48 and 20:42, respectively)
Lowest individual plus/minus: Gilbert Arenas and JaVale McGee (-4 in 27:54 and 14:42, respectively)
Best five-man unit: Earl Boykins/Randy Foye/Antawn Jamison/Andray Blatche/Brendan Haywood (+7 in the second quarter)
Worst five-man unit: Gilbert Arenas/Nick Young/Caron Butler/Antawn Jamison/JaVale McGee (-7 in the third quarter)
Snap Reaction: Gotta love what Boykins brought to the table, especially in the second quarter. He did well in the fourth, but he was better in the second.