WASHINGTON (AP)—Good thing the Gilbert Arenas talking bobblehead doll doesn’t mention turnovers.
While Washington Wizards fans carried home a mini-Arenas that brags he can’t be stopped, the real Arenas had mixed results in the first game against his old team.
Arenas had nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and seven turnovers in Friday night’s 97-79 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s just aggressive play,” Arenas said. “Some was dumb, but that happens in basketball.”
Washington snapped a five-game losing streak by using its perimeter defense to awaken its dormant transition game and take control in the third quarter. Arenas made a 3-pointer to start a quarter-ending 19-4 run that put Washington ahead to stay.
“He makes some terrific plays out there, and he makes some bonehead plays out there,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “He’s going to grow. He’s a third-year player, and he gives me a lot of headache, but we’ve got to have him on the floor.”
Asked how he can control Arenas’ carelessness but still let him shine, Jordan said: “Four-year guaranteed contract,” which is what Jordan has.
Arenas was the league’s most improved player last season with the Warriors. He signed a six-year, $65 million contract with the Wizards in July, and the Wizards commemorated their only home game against Arenas’ former team by giving away bobbleheads that said, in Arenas’ voice: “You can trap me, you can double me, you can foul me, but the one thing you’ll never do is stop me. I will drive the lane. I am Gilbert Arenas. We are the Wizards.”
Arenas returned from an abdominal injury earlier in the week, and he said before the game that he is only “75-80 percent.” He made only one shot in the first half but was active in the second half, using his quick hands on defense to start several fast breaks.
“It was weird playing against your old teammates,” Arenas said. “But it’s just like going in practice against each other. You’re talking trash; you’re hitting each other. It was fun.”
Jarvis Hayes, who will be honored by the University of Georgia at a home game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, came off the bench for only the third time this season and scored 20 points for Washington.
The victory came after a one-hour players’ only meeting on Thursday.
“We’re not a team in disarray. We’re together,” Jordan said. “We just haven’t been able to win ballgames.”
Jason Richardson scored 25 points for the Warriors, who have lost four straight overall and five in a row on the road, losing by an average of 19 points. Golden State has three games remaining on this road trip.
“It seems that when we get down on the road we don’t have any heart to fight back—no kind of enthusiasm to get back into the game,” guard Nick VanExel said.
Arenas’ best NBA game came against the Wizards, when he scored a career-high 41 points last season in a 113-107 Warriors victory. … Arenas said he remains close with two Warriors players, Richardson and Troy Murphy, but that he doesn’t follow the fortunes of the team in general. “They are two of my best friends in the league, but it’s a game now,” he said. … Jordan started Christian Laettner and Brendan Haywood in place of Etan Thomas and Hayes. Interestingly, the switch came after Jordan criticized Laettner’s play in pregame remarks, saying the veteran had not adjusted well to the coach’s transition-style game. … The Warriors activated Popeye Jones from the injured list. Jones tore cartilage in his left knee Nov. 5 and had missed 24 games. … Warriors F Brian Cardinal played with a mask on his face after breaking his nose in Wednesday’s loss at New Jersey. … Jerry Stackhouse hasn’t played this season because of a knee injury, and his date of return keeps moving back. Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said he hopes Stackhouse will suit upbefore the end of the month.