Washington (0-5) at Atlanta (2-3)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 2:00 pm EST Sun Nov 11, 2007
  • TV: CSMA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas was far better in wins last season than he was in losses. In the young 2007-08 season, he hasn’t had a chance to show his winning form.

Arenas and the Wizards hope to avoid the first 0-6 start in franchise history Sunday when they visit the Atlanta Hawks.

Arenas averaged 32.4 points while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range while playing in 39 of Washington’s 41 victories in 2006-07. Playing in 35 of his team’s 41 defeats, however, he was held to 24.1 points on 33.9 percent shooting, including 26.7 percent from behind the arc.

That trend appears to have carried over to this season, as Arenas has struggled throughout the Wizards’ 0-5 start. He has scored 20.8 points per game on 36.0 percent shooting, while connecting on just five of 32 3-point attempts (15.6 percent).

Part of the problem is Arenas’ ailing left knee. He underwent season-ending surgery on it last April, and has had it drained twice in the last three weeks. He remained in the trainer’s room long after Friday night’s game - a 118-92 home loss to Denver - and was not available for comment.

Arenas was 5-for-13 and scored 18 points in the defeat, the Wizards’ second by at least 20 points. Washington was within striking distance at halftime, but was outscored 33-11 and committed 12 turnovers in a dismal third quarter.

The surprisingly bad start has the Wizards feeling the pressure.

“Eventually we’re going to stop the bleeding, but ‘eventually’ needs to turn into ‘Sunday,”’ forward Antawn Jamison said. “In the past it’s been, ‘Eventually we’re going to get it going.’ Sunday it needs to happen.”

After a day off Saturday, Arenas hopes to bounce back in Atlanta, where he has averaged 34.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.0 steals in three games over the last two seasons.

Washington won three of four against Atlanta last season, but this year’s Hawks (2-3) have shown early signs of promise. Their two wins are over Dallas and Phoenix - the teams with the top two records in the NBA last season.

On Friday, however, Atlanta struggled defensively in a 106-83 loss at Boston. The Celtics shot 61.2 percent - just the second time in the last six seasons a team has topped the 60-percent mark against the Hawks. None of Atlanta’s other opponents this season has shot better than 46 percent.

“They handed it to us, man. It’s a learning experience,” said Joe Johnson, the Hawks’ leading scorer with 19.4 points per game.

Despite the loss, the Hawks were encouraged by the solid play of rookie Al Horford. In his fifth straight start at center in place of the injured Zaza Pachulia, Horford scored a season-best 16 points and added seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

“We’re pleased with our bigs,” coach Mike Woodson told the Hawks’ official Web site. “With Al and Zaza, you’ve got Lorenzen (Wright), Shelden (Williams) and Solomon Jones. That’s five big guys that bring something different to the table.”

The Hawks are 2-0 at Philips Arena, where they’re averaging 103.0 points and shooting 45.6 percent. They’re winless in three road games, scoring 85.3 points per game on 42.4 percent shooting.

Atlanta has won five of six at home dating to last season.

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Sunday, Nov 11