Trevor Ariza has career night in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Trevor Ariza left the floor early during warmups at Wells Fargo Center because it was too cold. An NHL game had taken place earlier and several players, including Andre Miller and Chris Singleton, could be seen blowing into their hands and rubbing their arms in an attempt to generate heat.
Ariza didn't take long. He just went to the locker room and waited until the opening tip in Saturday's 122-103 rout of the Philadelphia 76ers when he scored a career-high 40 points, 24 coming in the first quarter when he made his first six three-point attempts. A free agent after the season, each time Ariza swishes a three it should come with the sound effects of a cash register.
"It was cold early but the fans and the excitement and all the things that was going on here made me feel a little bit warmer," said Ariza, alluding to the sellout crowd that was primarily there to witness the retirement of Allen Iverson's No. 3 jersey at halftime. "The flamethrower was out there."
Ariza was averaging just 6.5 points per game and shot 27.8% from three-point range when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 and broke a bone in his right foot in January. That moment, however, marked a turnaround in his career.
"I had nothing but time. .... I wanted to do everything I could to help because we had a really good team so everyday, with my cast on, I'd be in the gym just shooting for hours," said Ariza, who is averaging 14.8 points and shooting 42.2% from three-point range this season. "I just started getting confidence once the boot came off."
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Ariza had his layup blocked by James Anderson with 4:30 left in the game. Wall collected the rebound with a dive to the floor. He fed Ariza from his back for the layup to make sure he reached 40. Ariza's previous high this season was 32.
"You want to see the guy that has put in work, doing the extra sacrifice to help our team, guarding the best players on any given night, to have one of those big nights," said Wall, who tied a career high with 16 assists. "You try to reward him for that. That's what I wanted, for him to get a 40-point game."
Marcin Gortat had another double-double with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Even he wasn't impressed by his own performance. He could only talk about Ariza.
"It was a one-man show," Gortat said. "My rebounds and John's assists, I don't think they count."