Maybe the title is a little overdramatic, but it reflects the sentiments of many Wizard fans this morning. We all knew that Gilbert Arenas was going to go through adjustments: Learning a new offense, re-acclimating to his teammates, and learning what his body could and could not do. Few, if any, could have predicted that Gilbert would have to re-learn swagger. But after seeing Gilbert clank another pair of free throws late in last night's game, you have to wonder if all of the adjustments Gilbert has had to go through have damaged his psyche.
Unlike physical injuries, a damaged psyche can be repaired and restored. But unlike a flesh wound, there are no timetables for damaged psyches. One can only hope it takes less time to get right than his knee.
Speaking of free throws, Gilbert Arenas is having a serious problem. In Thursdays game against the Celtics Arens was only 1-6 from the line, tonight, 4-7. Worse, however, has been the timing of his missed shots. For the second game in three days, Arenas missed two free throws with less than 30 seconds left in the game and his team very much in the game. Tonight the Wizards were up one with a chance to put them up three, and he missed both. Terrible.
Arenas called the Wizards a "bottom-feeder team" after the loss to Boston, and there was no evidence to contradict his assertion against last-place Indiana on Saturday. Washington had everything set up for a victory — a home game against a team that had lost six of seven, had played the night before and was without its best player.
The Wizards had positioned themselves to win after rebounding from a 66-52 halftime deficit and outscoring the Pacers 38-21 in the third quarter. They got 31 points and seven rebounds from Antawn Jamison, 23 points from Caron Butler and 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds from Arenas - his first triple-double since March 19, 2004. But it came down to two foul shots missed by the franchise point guard. "He's the man. He's got to make those plays -- bottom line," Saunders said. "You put the ball in the hands of your superstar. I have confidence in him and would put the ball in his hands again, and he's going to keep on having it in his hand to make those plays."
"I never fathomed I'd be missing free throws again," said Arenas, who finished with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the fourth triple-double of his career and second since March 19, 2004.
Are we ready to recap this? Take a deep breath because here we go right into the thick of things in the final seconds. Gilbert Arenas clanks two free throws with 6.6 seconds left in the game and the Wiz up, 113-112. On the rebound, the Pacers are forced to make something happen quickly as the team has no timeouts hanging around in coach Jim O'Brien's pocket, so T.J. Ford decides it's his game to win/lose. The guard takes it coast-to-coast, flings up a layup that sails beyond the goal, but Washington's Brandon Haywood decides he'd like to keep this game going and tips the ball out-of-bounds with 0.0 seconds on the clock. This is when all those alerts hit the airwaves. Game over. Pacers lose. But, occasionally there's a deity out there that feels sorry about The Brawl and sends some luck toward Indy. After a referee review, it's determined there are actually 0.5 seconds left in the game. The Pacers pull out a page from their past and lob the ball to Dunleavy in the paint, hoping to draw the foul or luck into an easy bucket. Dun's does what he does best -- draws the foul on Haywood. Wizards fans boo. Pacers fans cheer. After another review to make sure that the foul occurred in regulation, Dunleavy stepped to the line and drained two free throws with 0.1 left on the clock and iced the win.
Haywood. "It’s a touchy situation because you know you really can’t say anything about the refs without hearing from [NBA commissioner] David Stern. I just didn’t know you could catch it, and then come back down, and then shoot the ball, and then still have 0.1 second left on the clock. That’s a lot to do in 0.4 seconds. But it’s not my call. All I can say about it is that I don’t agree with it. I’m not sure how it’s possible."
Still, words can’t really describe the nature in which the Wizards lost to the Pacers on Saturday night. And while the circumstances still leave me in disbelief, once again as the game winded down, I had that sinking feeling, not so much that the Wizards were going to find a way to lose, but that a way to lose would find them. With six seconds left and his team up 113-112, Arenas went to the free-throw line with a chance to ensure overtime in the least. A chance for redemption from two crucially missed free-throws against the Celtics on Thursday. It wasn’t meant to be, he missed both.
The second quarter was an eye-covering affair, full of terrible, rushed shots and the Wizards throwing away the ball -- the Wizards shot 4-20 from the field and committed eight turnovers in that twelve minute period.
Then the Wizards couldn't even execute what was drawn up. After Flip yelled for Arenas to join his teammates on the floor and get in the corner as a decoy, Butler was SUPPOSED to throw a lob to McGee. But McGee lined up at the top of the key. Butler held the ball waiting for four seconds then had no choice but to throw it in to McGee, who tried to flip the ball up before the horn sounded, but he didn't and he missed anyway. Not sure what happened there because McGee (toward whom Flip stormed onto the floor and gave a talking to) had left the locker room before we got in there. But it definitely wasn't how the play was supposed to go.
The starters are on the bench in the fourth quarter. Last night, Hansbrough, Dunleavy (the free-throw savior with 0.1 seconds remaining) and Watson were killers in the final minutes; and 4) There's this thing called defense and the starters aren't playing it. The starting unit gave up 76 points in the first and third quarters combined. The Pacers gave up less in the second and fourth quarters combined (37 points) than the team did in just one of the other two periods. Obviously, these quarters are played with a mix of both units, but the tone of the quarter is set in the first few minutes and can be maintained for the remaining minutes of the stazna. The bench is setting a good tone in their quarters.