Heat 118, Wizards 104
No Gil. No thrill. That was one of the most silent sellout crowds I've ever been around. No energy. No buzz. It was like being at the theater, except the performance wasn't nearly as riveting.
One game after Verizon Center rocked like it hasn't all season, the fans in the building on Saturday were practically rocked to sleep by a flat team -- and it wasn't the one that played last night in Charlotte. If the victory over Cleveland on Thursday was supposed to be a snapshot of the future, with Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood back in the fold, then Saturday was was portrait of this entire season -- even with Haywood playing his third game of the season.
Arenas didn't play and Wizards Coach Ed Tapscott admitted that the team didn't have any energy. It showed, as the Wizards kept falling into holes, digging themselves out and dropping again. They got within 80-79 in the fourth quarter, but the Heat responded with eight three-pointers over the next 10 minutes, setting a franchise record for three-pointers in a quarter.
"I know we're going to double-team Dwyane Wade sometimes, which means you're going to probably leave a guy open," Tapscott said. "The ball is going to probably find them, but you got to get to them. And we were two steps slower."
I know a lot of people were wondering why Arenas decided not to play against Miami. This is merely speculation here, but I can't stop singing the Stevie Wonder song, "Superstition." After the game, Nick Young explained that Saturday was the two-year anniversary of the night Gerald Wallace crashed into Arenas's left knee. Since April 4, 2007, Arenas has had three knee surgeries and missed almost two seasons.
Arenas actually played on April 4 last season, when the Wizards defeated Miami, 109-95. Arenas had a pretty decent game with 13 points and eight assists in 20 minutes. He also shot 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Young said he had fears of a similar fate as Arenas when he had a nasty spill with Heat center Jamaal Magloire with 2:11 to go in the first quarter. Magloire fell into Young's right knee as the two fought for a loose ball, and Young got twisted up like a pretzel. His left leg bent back then rapidly popped forward. It was pretty scary.
"I hyperextended it a little bit," Young said. "I think Gil put a jinx on me. He said this was the day he got hurt [two years ago]. That's why he didn't play I don't think. He was talking about all day. I was worried. Once the doctor looked at it, he said everything was all right. I don't think it was that serious."
The important test will be how Young feels when he wakes up in the morning.
The Wizards' injury-plagued season got worse on Saturday, when Juan Dixon returned after missing the previous five games with soreness in his right Achilles. Dixon had five points and three assists in 20 minutes but headed toward the locker room after Dominic McGuire subbed for him with 7:18 left in the game.
"I really appreciated his effort," Tapscott said. "He probably shouldn't have played. I don't think I'm think I'm going to be able to use him for the rest of the year because he strained it."
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