One thing I didn’t to mention in my post-game write-up … and I’m not sure if it had a proper place there anyway … was the “mood” of Gilbert Arenas after the Suns game.
I’ve only been around the new, media unfriendly Arenas at media day, practices, and home games. And he’s only talked once after a practice (to my knowledge), the first one after he got fined. I also haven’t been to every practice, but his routine usually has been to say, “They said I don’t have to talk to you guys today … only on game nights.”
Most are still getting acclimated to the melancholy, aloof Gilbert Arenas … the one who has become so jaded by the media that he started putting on a rendition of himself that’s a far cry from the entertaining Arenas of old. A seemingly 180-degree turn, but still 100% quirky.
If you ask his teammates, he’s still the same Gilbert. Maybe he’s not pulling the pranks he has in the past, but he’s certainly not putting on a terse facade with them. The media has witnessed Arenas joking around with others, only to see his alter ego take effect when “official” media time commences. I’ve found myself wondering if Arenas’ “act” causes him internal strife, in the sense that it takes energy to suppress part of his being. Or, is the whole charade something he enjoys?
I suspect a little of column A, a little of column B. Instances of Arenas being asked to remove his hood before speaking with the media after the opening night win against the Nets, or his incessant pumping of the handle on his designer roll-away bag after the Heat game seemed to indicate that he certainly wasn’t enjoying having to talk to the media.
On the other hand, when a reporter was asking Mike James a couple questions in the locker room prior to the Suns game, Arenas appeared as if he couldn’t help himself, snickering at the two man scene as he walked by. I can’t speculate what about the sight of Mike James and a reporter talking brought a smile to Arenas’ face, but I nonetheless dubbed it Arenas’ first media-induced smile of the season.
Back to after Sunday’s game … I’m not going to proclaim some type of dramatic change from Arenas, nor will I purport it to be permanent. But he seemed to shelf his “act” just a bit when speaking with the media. Gone were the completely somber, one word answers. Gone was the hesitancy to look up or make eye contact. Now, Arenas didn’t wax poetic about the game of basketball, captivating the media corps. After all, it was after a loss. He did, however, answer questions in a straight forward manner without coming across like he was forced to talk.
Again, all of this could mean nothing … but it was just something I noticed and felt it was worth mentioning.
Caron Butler haves some fun with his Mountain Dew addiction
Wizards-Suns Links & Quotes
The Wizards’ margin for error is rather slim without their full arsenal of firepower (haven’t I written that before? Like, 63 times last season).
Jamison might not be the best player, but it is becoming obvious that he is someone that the team really needs on the floor. Not just because he can get 20 points and 10 rebounds without holding the ball for long stretches, but also because of his leadership. He also provides the bridge for Butler and Arenas, who are not in sync offensively.
They are not a pretty sight, whether it is Caron Butler missing three shots at the rim or Randy Foye, inexplicably, making an ill-advised move to the basket before halftime that allowed the Suns enough time to sink a 3-pointer.
The latter prompted assistant coach Sam Cassell to give Foye a quickie lesson in time management as the players made their way to the locker room.
That snapshot is emblematic of a team that is exhibiting a low basketball IQ and lacks a sense of urgency.
The offense, which was supposed to be the one area that Coach Saunders specialized in, has been struggling the last several games, and no one seems to have the answer as to why. Saunders said after the game that his players didn’t trust the system or each other. Brendan Haywood thinks that when the offensive sets break down, there are too many one-on-one and isolation plays. Arenas thinks that the absence of both Jamison and Miller are the key, because of how they can spread the floor and make things easier for everyone. From my vantage point, it is all of the above, plus the fact that the Wizards are simply missing shots that they were hitting in their victories. In fact, the Wizards have not looked fluid on offense since the first half of their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Without Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller still out at least another week the Wizards have to find a way to stay afloat. The offense is struggling in a big way and their absences are a big reason why. Both Jamison and Miller have the ability to stretch defenses because they are a threat from beyond the arc. No offense toFabrico Oberto and DeShawn Stevenson but they don’t get that same type of respect from opposing defenses. In over 25 minutes of play against Phoenix, Oberto only attempted one shot and Stevenson is shooting a putrid 14 percent from 3-point range so far. Right now teams are just sagging in the lane and making it difficult for the likes of Arenas and Butler to get any decent looks. That has a lot to do with players forcing shots and not making that extra pass.
For the Wizards’ sake, that grinding can’t take too much more time. We’re only seven games into the season, but already, other Eastern Conference teams like Atlanta and Miami have started stronger than the Wizards. The longer it takes for the Wizards to pick up Flip Saunders’ ball-movement-heavy system, the more ground they will have to make up to avoid being a bottom-rung playoff team. And being a bottom-rung playoff team couldn’t have been what ErnieGrunfeld and company had in mind this season.
- Can the Wizards Learn How to Win – Jarrett Carter, Stet Sports
- Wizards struggle from the field in loss to Suns – George Panagakos, Examiner.com
- Déjà vu? Wiz hope not, fall to Suns, 102-90 – Craig Stouffer, Washington Examiner
- Wizards drop fourth in a row, lose to Suns – William Yoder, Agent Dagger
Jason Richardson again played a strong game, posting up a variety of Wizard defenders which eventually led to the Wiz double teaming him. Richardson had his head up to feed the open man for a basket. It’s refreshing to see Richardson play a complete game this season after last year saw him focusing too much on three pointers.
The Suns are considered flawed defenders and rebounders. But their defense limited Washington to 39 percent shooting Sunday, as stars Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas shot 14 for 42. The Suns’rebounders scored on second chances as often as the Wizards, and each frontcourt starter recorded double-digit rebounds.
The Suns were not fast or sharp offensively early for the 11 a.m. start (Arizona time). Washington started small guards, prompting the Suns to post up Jason Richardson often. It was successful, but it also led to the Suns turning stagnant.