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Wizards 114, Jazz 111

(video via member Gilbertology.

Gilbert Arenas has had a 60 point game and a 54 point game this season, both on the road.  He's nearly had a triple double and 30 points in the same game, he's hit numerous 30 footers to end quarters, and he's already won one game in dramatic fashion with a pull-up three.  

Still, today's performance against the Jazz eclipses all those games.  The Wizards had no business winning this one.  The Jazz built a big lead in the second quarter, and dominated the Wizards on the offensive end all night.  Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer absolutely abused Brendan Haywood, Antawn Jamison, and Etan Thomas.  Deron Williams dished out 13 assists, and the Jazz were able to create anything they wanted on the offensive end.  

Meanwhile, nobody else on the Wizards was consistently spectacular.  Butler was solid with 21 and 7, but we've come to expect that from him.  Jamison, as Unsilent mentioned, was awful today.  The bench guys didn't produce consistently, and while Haywood had a double-double, he struggled mightly to deal with Boozer on the defensive end.  Arenas carried this team on his back all game, and then, when it mattered most, he carried them again.  The  Jazz play very well in close games, thanks to the poise of Williams and the clutch shooting of Okur, making Arenas' late-game sequence all the more improbable.

I guess I can retract this statement from Sunday's post.  

This was also Arenas' third straight poor game, making me wonder if teams have figured out how to guard him.  Kirk Hinrich, Devin Brown, and Tony Parker have all played Arenas tightly, funneling Arenas to their inside defenders.  It's worked very well, as Arenas had only 5 free thow attempts tonight.

On second thought...maybe I shouldn't.  The more Arenas is motivated, the better.  

A couple other notes:

  • What has happened to Andrei Kirilenko recently?  Was he really just overrated, or is he hurting?  Because someone as talented as he is should not be scoring only 4 points against a defense that has struggled guarding slashing small forward-type players.  Never once did I even worry about Kirilenko.  
  • It's becoming obvious the Wizards are missing Jared Jeffries more than they ever care to admit.  Watching Jamison attempt to guard Okur was a nightmare.  Neither of Okur's late threes were really contested, even though there's very little else he does incredibly.  It's one thing to let a quicker offensive player drive by you, but it's entirely another to let a great-shooting big man get open on the perimeter.  Jeffries was not worth the money the Knicks paid him, but his presence allowed the Wizards to hide Jamison on defense.  Jeffries could match up anywhere as the Wizards' swiss army knife, and they miss a player like that this year.  As a result, Jamison is thrust into positions he can't handle, and the Wizards defense has been worse.
  • We grumble about Eddie Jordan's rotation a lot, and rightfully so.  Today might have been an interesting time to try Etan and Haywood together, but it didn't happen.  At the very least, Blatche could have played more productive minutes.  It simply makes no sense to play Jarvis Hayes at power forward and Jamison at center in crunch time.  It's like the small lineup is Jordan's evil pet.

With a key road game at Orlando wedged between easier home games against New York and Boston, 3-0 isn't out of the question.  The Wizards need more balance to win most of them, but they can take solace in the fact that Agent Zero saved them from yet another loss.