Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:41 p.m.
By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWASHINGTON -- After faking an injury, Gilbert Arenas is now dealing with one.
Fiction collided with reality in the Wizards 96-88 pre-season loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Arenas return to the Verizon Center court for the first time since last season's 50 game suspension was cut short by a groin injury.
Arenas had been fined by the team on Wednesday for pretending to have a knee injury so he could sit out Tuesdays' game against the Hawks. Against the Bucks Arenas only played three minutes before he asked to come off when he seemed in discomfort after getting back in transition following a turnover.
Officially Arenas is said to have a mild right groin strain. Arenas did want to return to the game but was held out for precautionary reasons. When he came off the bench with 7:05 left in the first quarter Arenas received a warm reception from the home crowd and he in turn raised his hands over his head and applauded the fans.
While only in the game for three minutes, Arenas made a difference on the defensive end. All pre-season Arenas has been explosive on offense, but his improvement on defense has been noteworthy. In his brief time on the floor he did not score but electrified the appreciative crowd with three steals and one blocked shot.
"He was good while he was in there," Wizards head coach Flip Saunders said of Arenas.
Once again Saunders started John Wall and Kirk Hinrich in the backcourt with Nick Young and Andray Blatche at forwards and Yi Jianlian at center. Blatche led the Wizards in scoring with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Wall had a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists.
"John had eight assists in the first half, and he ended up with 11," Saunders noted. "I thought our team played extremely selfish today. So when that happens, especially when you're a point guard and that happens it becomes very frustrating."
The Bucks were led by Drew Gooden who had 25 points and filled the void for Andrew Bogut is still coming back from an injury plagued season. The Bucks rallied for victory in the second half when the Wizards had 13 of their 22 turnovers.
Indeed the Wizards put up 57 points in the first half and at the break had recovered from a slow start to shoot 47 percent. The Wizards seemed to unravel in the third quarter when they only scored 16 points.
"Flip didn't seem too happy with the offense tonight," Hinrich added. "When you play those good teams, we can't play that way. We learned that last year the hard way and are trying to fix it this year."
Nick Young, who led the Wizards in scoring in each of the last two games, only had 11 points but improved in other areas and finished with 7 rebounds. Against the Hawks, Young scored 24 points but did not have a rebound or an assist.
It is pre-season and that means the proverbial work in progress. Whether it's in victory or defeat, the Wizards have displayed a mix of intriguing potential with the frustration of being a young team that is still developing.
"Our bigs are basically trying to play too much perimeter. That's something we have got to clean up," Saunders added. "We got to have a thrust inside. They keep on popping out, popping out. That just isn't going to work. We got to have more of a presence in the paint."
"We're still growing and getting to know each other as a team," Blatche pointed out. "You just have to give it some time. None of the players on this team are selfish players, we all care about each other and now it's all about time and getting to know each other's game better."