Are the Wiz Better With Gil?
Seems to me there are two different versions of this question. As a viable D.C. sports enterprise, there's no question they want as many players who emerge from the locker room at odd points wearing custom-made shoes and enter games to standing ovations as possible. As Comcast SportsyNet's Chris Miller told the viewing audience last night, when Gilbert entered the game and scored seven points in 99 seconds, the arena was more electric than it had been for a Wiz game in months, although let's be honest, it wasn't close to the Caps' Red Out crowd from the previous night.
(Also, in the final 10 seconds last night, when some NBA arenas might have been going bonkers, I was trying to scan the crowd with my video camera to get scenes of delirious bonkerdom, and all I found was a bunch of young kids dancing, plus people on cell phones. And the arena still has to put images of Greg Paulus on the big screen during free throws to get people to boo.)
Anyhow, as to whether or not they're a better basketball team with Gilbert, call it an open question. Of all the players on both teams last night, Gilbert had the worst plus-minus rating (-8). When he entered the game the first time, his seven quick points were remarkable, and yet the Wiz still got outscored in that stretch. And when he entered the game for the last time, the Wiz were up nine; they then got outscored 24-14 down the stretch.
Dating back to last season--a completely unfair exercise for any number of reasons--the Wiz are now 6-12 in the last 18 games they've played with Arenas in the lineup.
Here's Caron on The Return: "Everything Gilbert do is gonna be big. He had a big entrance. He deserved it: the standing ovation. I mean, behind closed doors, you don't see how hard he worked to get back on the court and to get back out there. I mean, he was going through a lot, mentally and physically. We shared some ups and down times, and to see him back on the court, smiling and happy to be back out there, pain-free, that was a sigh of relief. So I'm happy he returned, but most importantly we need to get a win, clinch of a playoff spot and continue to get some momentum with Gilbert back."
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