[Ed. Note: Below is something I wrote about Rashard Lewis' debut for the December 23 edition of ESPN's Daily Dime ... then some must-read links.]
In his Washington Wizards debut, Rashard Lewis performed about as expected for a 31-year-old 3-point-shooting wing player who just got traded from a championship contender to a rebuilding team. In 22 minutes off the bench, Lewis scored eight points on 4-for-10 shooting (0-for-5 from 3) with three rebounds, one block, an assist, two turnovers and five fouls.
The biggest challenge for Flip Saunders is how to integrate Lewis into a team that’s also just welcoming Josh Howard back into the mix after offseason knee surgery. Saunders is not only getting to teach his young team — a lot — but he’s also getting to experiment.
Lewis was inserted at the 3-spot late in the first quarter, creating a lengthy unit with Howard, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, and Kirk Hinrich running the show. The lineup produced instant results for Lewis, as the new addition got his first points as a Wizard on a putback about a minute after he entered. More his style, his second basket came when he slipped a ball screen and Hinrich found him for a 17-footer in the left corner.
But putting him at the 4 to start the second quarter didn’t work as well. The Bulls’ Carlos Boozer went for blood, sticking a 13-foot fader from the corner on Lewis one play, and losing him among screening action in the paint for a layup soon after. Lewis picked up his second foul at the 9:42 mark of the second while giving up an offensive board to Omer Asik.
Lewis’ benefits ultimately come down to his ability to knock down shots, and the perfect shooter’s redemption came with 1:30 left in the game. Down 83-80 with a chance to tie, Lewis set a ball screen for Al Thornton on the left wing and then popped out behind the arc to receive the pass. Boozer was far enough away to give Lewis time to set himself before launching a shot, but Lewis missed badly to the right.
“Every time he shot it, because that’s what he can do, the whole arena expected him to make it,” Saunders said after the game.
That can only last for so long.
Check out the column of TAI’s Rashad Mobley this week at the DCist … “Gilbert Didn’t Complete Me.”
Mike Wise wrote some excellent, must-read words about Gilbert Arenas at Bullets Forever … but then they were taken down because the Washington Post and SB Nation are “competitors” … probably a violation of Wise’s contract of something, who knows? Silly nonetheless. Anyway, this line sums it up: “Gilbert was always the same guy, floating with ease among every race and every class. Looking back, the only thing that was a little disconcerting was Gilbert’s need for approval from them all.”
Bethlehem Shoals with some words on Gil:
“In the nineties, Dennis Rodman’s dyed hair, piercings, and tabloid-ready personal life (I dated Madonna! I’m bi!) passed for “weird” among basketball players. By contrast, Arenas’s shtick was too unpredictable to wear thin. When Arenas was described as “weird”, it was part of a game—his game—that engaged fans in a way athletes just didn’t anymore.”
Dan Steinberg relates that Gilbert Arenas didn’t want to get Haynesworth’d and a reader of the Bog says that he “wouldn’t trade [Arenas] for seven overserious Tim Duncans.” I’d be inclined to disagree. We’re talking SEVEN Tim Duncans … spread out over time or all at once, can you imagine what a team would be able to do with all those Tim Duncans? A whole f-ing lot. Also, the over-seriousness of Duncan is over-exaggerated, he’s more bland than over-serious, but certainly a more interesting character than he gets credit for on the national scene.
[DC Sports Bog]
For Converse, a writer waxes poetic about Kirk Hinrich under a cartoon depiction of Kirk in a Wizards uniform while a depressed fan stares aimlessly in the background.