Arenas takes over with triple double

Wizards sink Mavs

Washington hits 13 threes in 100-90 win over Dallas

team trades for Knight

November 06, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Even less than 90 minutes before last night's tip-off against the Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was coy regarding lineup changes suited to the challenge of stopping a team that's tougher to defend than just about any other.

"Maybe we'll run all guards," he said. "I don't want to show my hand just yet."

While he might have envisioned many things, the hand his team eventually showed wasn't anything he might have expected during a 100-90 win over a team generally regarded to be well beyond the experience and ability of the Wizards.

In front of a crowd of 17,455, the first non-sellout in the past 83 games at the MCI Center, Gilbert Arenas contributed 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the franchise's first triple double in four years, providing early returns on the $64 million contract he signed with the team in the offseason.

Larry Hughes added 19 points - hitting five of the team's franchise-record 13 three-pointers - and three others scored in double figures.

Though the absence of Dallas' Steve Nash because of a strained left shoulder for most of the game didn't hurt Washington's effort, a smaller starting lineup, with Christian Laettner substituting for Brendan Haywood at center, held the Mavericks (3-2) to 37.6 percent shooting.

Laettner scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds.

Former Maryland stars Juan Dixon and Steve Blake keyed a second-quarter run that put the Wizards (3-2) up by 16 at halftime. The team led by as many as 23 points in the second half.

"We wanted to show the NBA that we can be as up-tempo and athletic and aggressive as the Dallas Mavericks," Jordan said, with that emphasis indicated by yesterday's trade of center Jahidi White to the Phoenix Suns for guard Brevin Knight.

"We like the way we play, and we like to play that way in a sense and we showed that tonight. And it pretty much started with Gilbert tonight."

The first Wizard to achieve a triple double since Rod Strickland on April 28, 1999, and the last to emerge in the locker room after his performance, Arenas beamed brighter than the studs on his ears when he heard of his night's statistical significance.

"Oh, I got a triple double," he said. "Uh, great. I did what I did."

After all, the first matter of business for Arenas was to help his team to a greater extent than he'd been able to do in the previous three games.

While he'd been leading the team in scoring (15.3) and assists (4.7), he had limited his shots to nine per game, in an effort to help new teammates find their comfort zone.

The only problem was that a John Stockton-type wasn't what Washington had in mind when they dealt for him, especially with Jerry Stackhouse's right knee keeping him out until next month, and Jordan told him as much.

"I didn't try to make anything happen, but we're not going to get a win like that. I'm not helping anyone out like that," Arenas said of his previous games. "Tonight, I just decided to go out and play my game, the reason why the brought me here."

Nine shots? On his way to a 17-point first half, Arenas attempted that number in the first quarter against the Mavericks, who never led after Arenas' short jumper at the 5:16 mark.

With the second team coming in for the second period, Dixon scored seven of his 11 points during a 30-second run that put Washington ahead 41-29.

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