Entangled in an off-court gun controversy involving star Gilbert Arenas(notes), the Washington Wizards are trying to focus on ending their latest losing streak. A meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers could help.
The Wizards look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss while trying for a third straight victory over the suddenly surging 76ers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Two days after scoring 23 points in a 97-86 home loss to San Antonio, Arenas said Monday while meeting with law enforcement officials that he took unloaded guns from his locker at the Verizon Center in a “misguided effort to play a joke” on a teammate.
The former All-Star, who’s averaging 22.7 points on the season and 28.0 in his last nine games, released a written statement where he repeated his earlier assertion that he brought four guns to store in his locker in order to get them out of his house and away from his children.
Arenas denied threatening or assaulting anyone, though The New York Post has reported that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton(notes) drew guns on each other. It was unclear whether Crittenton also planned to meet with authorities about the incident.
“Joke or not, I now recognize that what I did was a mistake and was wrong,” Arenas said. “I should not have brought the guns to DC in the first place, and I now realize that there’s no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns - even if unloaded.
“I want to apologize to everybody for letting them down with my conduct, and I promise to do better in the future.”
NBA commissioner David Stern likely will wait until the legal process is complete before handing down penalties, but he could rule on Arenas now since league rules were broken.
In the meantime, Arenas and the Wizards (10-21) look to snap a four-game losing streak by improving to 3-0 against Philadelphia this season. Arenas is averaging 27.0 points his last 14 games against the 76ers after scoring 31 in a 105-98 home win Dec. 22.
Though Washington has fared well against the 76ers (10-23) this season, Philadelphia has won three of four heading into this contest and four in a row at home over the Wizards.
“We are just beginning to go uptown,” said 76ers coach Eddie Jordan, whose team beat a Denver club playing without injured stars Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes). “You never know what this can take us. We hope it gets us going.”
With leading scorer Andre Iguodala(notes) (18.5 points per game) held to a season-low eight points, Iverson helped carry Philadelphia, which went 40 of 80 from the field and has made at least 50 percent of its shots three times in four games.
Iverson went 5 of 11 from the field and recorded seven assists. The veteran guard is averaging 15.7 points and 4.7 assists in nine games during his second stint with the 76ers. A bout with some lingering arthritis kept Iverson out of uniform against Washington last month, but he’s averaging 28.0 points and 5.6 assists in 35 career games versus the Wizards.
Brand had 18 points and 12 rebounds against the Wizards last month after being held to four points and 1 for 9 shooting in a 108-107 loss at Washington on Nov. 24.