Arenas leads Wizards to 95-87 win

He notches triple double as Washington tops Bulls for 2nd victory in a row

Pro Basketball

February 27, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - It didn't take nearly as long for Gilbert Arenas to start shooting against the Chicago Bulls last night as it did Wednesday in Toronto, when the Washington Wizards' point guard waited until the fourth quarter to hoist a shot.

And once Arenas started shooting last night in the Wizards' 95-87 win over the Bulls at MCI Center, he didn't stop, going 7-for-15 from the field.

But Arenas also notched his second career triple double - 21 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists - in Washington's second consecutive win.

"I guess you guys [the media] got to him, because I couldn't," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "You guys did a great job. Thanks."

Arenas, who posted a triple double in November in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, has squabbled with forward Kwame Brown this week over how the ball is distributed. Brown had maintained, without naming Arenas, that the ball stayed in one player's hands too often.

As a result, Arenas didn't shoot Wednesday until midway through the fourth quarter, and he only scored seven points. The Wizards clearly needed more scoring and more activity from Arenas, and they got it.

"It feels great," said Arenas, one of four Wizards to score in double figures. "I'm just out there doing whatever I can do to help the team win. I know I can rebound because I've been doing it all my life. If they're hitting open shots, I'm getting assists."

As Arenas was chatting with reporters, Brown, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds, jokingly yelled from the other side of the locker room, "Keep it going. I'm [a jerk]."

Brown, who has maintained that he was not talking about Arenas specifically Sunday when he first spoke after a drubbing against the Milwaukee Bucks, but rather about the whole team, said he was comfortable with the turmoil it raised if it led to wins.

"Everybody tried to make such a negative spin out of it," said Brown. "This ain't Hollywood. We're not in L.A. We come here to play ball, and while we were losing, we still have our pride.

"I wasn't trying to make a fuss between players. I just wanted to play basketball like that. If we had lost that game, we still gave 100 percent, but if you play like that, it's tough to lose."

The Wizards (18-38) started the game on an 18-4 run, gave the lead back with sloppy play, then looked on the verge of getting blown out when a 9-0 Chicago run to start the second half put Washington down 11.

But Washington outscored the Bulls 22-9 the rest of the third quarter, and coasted home in the fourth. The Wizards did what Jordan has been preaching all season - pass the ball ahead to put the defense on its heels.

"When you pass ahead, then the ball passes the defense, and you get a trail guy and everyone touches the ball," said Jordan. "They're trusting each other to get to their spots, to run the floor and to make plays. I'm up here trying to explain it, and I'm trying to do a good job explaining something when I don't know what's going on."

Jordan doesn't want to admit that the flap between Arenas and Brown might have jump-started the Wizards' dismal season. And with the once-again mighty Los Angeles Lakers coming in tomorrow for a visit, things might go back to square one.

But for now, a little fussing might not be a bad thing, provided the result ends up a victory.

"Whatever happened, I'll do it all over again if we can keep playing like this," Brown said.

Kirk Hinrich had 23 points for Chicago (16-42), which moved into a tie with the Wizards for the Eastern Conference's worst road record at 6-22.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Tomorrow, 3:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: CSN/WTEM (980 AM)

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