Gilbert Arenas returned, John Wall flirted with a triple-double but the Washington Wizards went 1-2 in the second week of the regular season, giving them a 1-4 overall record and fourth place in the NBA’s Southeast Division.

The Wizards’ home opener on Nov. 2 saw a 116-115 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that saw Wall rack up 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals. Wall warmed up the home crowd by doing “The Dougie” dance during pregame announcements, flashing fans his smooth moves before taking over the game and tying a franchise record for steals.

Washington and Arenas returned to action on Nov. 5 with a road game against the New York Knicks. The former All-Star made his season debut and notched 18 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough as New York shot 12-of-29 from three-point range. The Knicks routed Washington, 112-91.

Wall doled out seven assists, but also handed out nine turnovers. Six players scored in double figures for New York, as each member of the Knicks roster scored and contributed in some way. Andray Blatche led Washington with 22 points and six rebounds, following up an impressive 23-point, eight-rebound outing against the 76ers.

A home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 6 reintroduced Arenas to local fans, but the crowd saw Wizards forward Al Thornton explode for 23 points and six rebounds as the Wizards nevertheless dropped a 107-102 nail-biter. Thornton was electric during the first three quarters but head coach Flip Saunders chose to sit the small forward for the final nine minutes of the contest, electing to go with his three-guard lineup of Wall, Arenas and Kirk Hinrich. Washington was outscored 31-26 in the final period.

“We got into a little bit of a rhythm with Gil in there,” Saunders said. “In hindsight, you wished you had Al back in the game.”

Despite the loss, there was still room for small accolades inside the Wizards’ locker room. Wall dished out 10 assists and became the first rookie with seven or more assists in his first five games since Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat in 1960 with 10-straight games of seven assists or more.

Washington will return to action with a home game Nov. 10 against the Houston Rockets. It will be interesting to see if Saunders elects to reinsert Arenas into the starting lineup. In two games as a reserve, Arenas is averaging 15.5 points, 1.5 steals and two assists.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO