Wizards Insider: Part I. Part II.
Mike Wise returns from the dead.
DC Pro Sports Report.
Kelly Dwyer weighs in on the curse.
Antawn Jamison=Homer Simpson.
Highest plus/minus: DeShawn Stevenson (+7).
Lowest plus/minus: Gilbert Arenas (-8).
It was really outstanding to see Gilbert Arenas back on the court. Words can't describe the feeling I had when he hit his first four shots. My video feed was not working for some reason, so all I heard initially was Dave Johnson's radio call, but it still made me smile.
And yet, Gilbert, in spite of himself, probably played a big role in this loss. He wasn't the only culprit, but he was certainly a culprit.
Consider that the Wizards were outscored by eight points in Gilbert's 20 minutes, despite the fact that Gilbert was a model of offensive efficiency, scoring 17 points on nine shots. Gilbert was more than a step slow defensively, and he clearly has not fully grasped Randy Ayers' emphasis on not sagging into the lane when the ball is on the weakside. Gilbert also had four turnovers, and when you combine that with his seven free throws, that means Gilbert ended 17 possessions in 20 minutes. That's a ton, even for a high usage player, and it takes his teammates out of the game. Then, in the final few minutes, Gilbert just wasn't the same force yet that he was in the past, and while he hit those free throws, it was the only time when he really made an impact.
Then, there's the last play. We all know what happens. The Bucks throw the ball to Andrew Bogut, Gilbert cheats off Ramon Sessions, Bogut touch-passes to Sessions, and Sessions hits the shot. The worst part about that play is that Gilbert didn't exactly double-team Bogut. He was merely sagging as usual off Sessions, playing in no-mans land. Truth is exactly right in his live-blog; it was a bad defensive play.
Blame should certainly be passed around to forces beyond Arenas, though. Everyone was awful defensively, particularly Brendan Haywood, who constantly left Andrew Bogut alone on the offensive glass. In a game where your opponent shoots 55 percent, there's no reason to also be outrebounded by seven like the Wizards were. Bobby Simmons suddenly discovered his outside touch because Caron Butler kept sagging off him, and in the fourth quarter, it was Royel Ivey and Ramon Sessions beating the Wizards, not Michael Redd and Mo Williams.
But the underlying point from tonight's game is that it will take a while for Gilbert to get in tune with the rest of the team. Which is why, considering how spry he looked offensively, he should have been back in the lineup last week. There isn't much time for Gilbert to get adjusted again.