Wizards 113, Bulls 103
WASHINGTON (AP)—Gilbert Arenas was slowed again by Chicago in what turned out to be a Washington win, then was asked how it felt not to have to be Superman every night.
“The supporting cast did a great job,” Arenas said, holding back laughter. Then a loud voice drenched with sarcasm shot over from two lockers down: “Yeah, Wonder Woman was terrific tonight!”
The postgame humor, and the in-game support, came from Antonio Daniels, the veteran reserve who matched a season high with 15 points to join Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and others in leading the Wizards past the Bulls 113-103 Wednesday night.
“It was a total team effort. When you have balance across the board like that, any team is difficult to beat,” said Daniels, one of six Wizards in double figures.
“Gil can’t score 40 points every night, so that’s the job of other people. When Gil’s not scoring 50 points, everybody else has to be ready to step up and make up the difference.”
Washington earned a seventh consecutive home victory even though Arenas didn’t even attempt a second-half field goal until there were fewer than 6 minutes left in the game—a result of coach Eddie Jordan’s halftime chastising about forcing shots.
Arenas finished 5-for-16 for 20 points—well below his 30.5 average, No. 2 in the NBA—while playing, he said, “against a team that grabs, pulls, holds. … They were just in my way.”
Washington’s reserves outscored Chicago’s 32-30, the first time the Wizards held an edge in that category since Nov. 17 against Detroit, a span of 25 games.
On Wednesday, Washington led 84-82 with about 7 minutes left. That’s when Daniels hit a fadeaway 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire, opening a decisive 12-0 run. During that stretch, Daniels also scored on a layup and drew a charge on big Ben Wallace, who argued the call and was whistled for a technical.
Butler made that free throw, then scored off the glass for a 96-82 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left. Chicago never got closer than seven again.
Butler finished with 26 points—his seventh game in a row with at least 20 — along with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Stevenson scored 13, including eight in a row to start the third quarter.
Hinrich began the second half by shooting 6-for-7, mixing 3s and drives to the basket. It was quite a turnaround from the previous three games, in which the guard went only 6-for-31 from the field.
On defense, Hinrich was mainly responsible for shadowing Arenas, and he did a good job of harassing the two-time All-Star.
But Arenas made 3-pointers over Gordon on two straight trips down the court — “He’s going to seal the deal in the fourth quarter,” Jordan said—to make it 101-87 with 3 minutes left, putting Washington over the 100 mark for the 18th consecutive time.
The Bulls were the last team to hold the Wizards under 100, winning 112-94 at Chicago on Dec. 2. In that game, Arenas scored 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Arenas topped that total in the first quarter alone with 11 points, thanks to an odd four-point sequence in the final 3 seconds.
Washington inbounded the ball to Arenas, who drew contact from Hinrich. As their arms got tangled, the ball floated in the air, and Hinrich was called for a shooting foul. Bulls coach Scott Skiles ran out on the floor screaming, earning a technical foul.
Arenas said he heard Skiles tell Hinrich to foul, so “as soon as I saw him reaching for it, I chucked the ball.”
Arenas sank the technical foul shot, then the three for the shooting foul in the backcourt, giving Washington a 27-18 lead after the first quarter.
“In the 20 years that I’ve been in the league, I’ve seen that shooting motion hundreds of times from guys trying to get that call, and I’ve never seen it awarded before,” Skiles said. “I didn’t get an explanation.”
Wizards C Etan Thomas returned to action after missing 13 games with a sprained left ankle. He had five points and two rebounds in 16 minutes. … Wallace had 16 rebounds.