The Washington Wizards headed into their game against the Golden State Warriors last night with the weight of this world and Pandora’s around their necks. Several of their last contests were seemingly won, and excruciatingly lost on offensive and defensive mental lapses.
But their final stop in California proved to be the rejuvenating locale that the Wizards hoped it would be. They beat Golden State, 118-109 , and in the process, kept the flickering flame of fan hope back East going; if only for one more week.
Gilbert Arenas arguably had his best game of the season, scoring 45 points to accompany 13 assists to lead the Wiz in both categories. Caron Butler, with whom Arenas has bumped heads to find a spot in Flip Saunders’ offensive food chain, finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Antawn Jamison finished with 10 and 10 while playing with a stinger.
Seemed like, for one night only, the gang was back together.
Can they keep it going? Have they put it all together? Was this just a good offensive output against another poor defensive team? All of the questions that obviously standout aren’t easily answered, because the Wizards themselves aren’t altogether certain of what this display is.
We do know that it was an outburst, the likes of which we haven’t seen in two years. And we know that they are capable of playing the run-and-gun style that must be employed given their aversion to defense.
And we know that there are a lot of willing suitors for parts should Wizards’ president Ernie Grunfeld decide to scrap the machine.
But the one thing we can surmise is that the team won’t jettison Gilbert Arenas, or hold him back from shooting his mouth and game out of the slump they’ve been in through the first 24 games of the season.
You can make the argument that Gilbert Arenas means more to his team, than any other superstar means to theirs; where Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have had championship success through winning or appearance, Arenas is the only figure that retains any interest in this franchise.
Knowing that, the way out of the jungle for the Wizards is to truly make it Gilbert’s show to run. If he wants 30 shots in a game, they franchise ought smile and say ‘why not 45?’ If one of the big three complain about the lack of opportunities, get him out of there and get the power forward you’ve been dreaming of.
Because Gilbert’s success, and thereby, the success of the Wizards, all depend on the two things that have long driven his career as a premier guard. Free reign and something to prove within it.