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Is it finally time for Gilbert Arenas?

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

From a struggling reserve with a minutes limitation to a starter? It could happen for Gilbert Arenas only four days after it appeared that his return to form was going to be a prolonged endeavor. His jump shot was off target and he was slow to get in proper game shape after missing nearly three weeks of action with a strained tendon his right ankle.

Coach Flip Saunders wanted to bring Arenas along slowly and shot down the possibility of Arenas getting more than 30 minutes a game last Friday because of the risk of him getting hurt again. That evening, Arenas missed 12 of 14 shots in a season-high 31 minutes as the Wizards lost a winnable game against Charlotte, and he seemed further away. Arenas explained afterward that he was only a few games away from finding his rhythm -- and one night later, Arenas was burying three-pointers, waving his hand in front of his face like former backcourt mate DeShawn Stevenson, and scoring a season-high 30 points in a season-high 32 minutes against Chicago.

"That was one of the best feelings I had in a while, to see him out there," Andray Blatche said. "He's starting to get his touch back and his shot back and his confidence, and he's being the old Gil, taking the shots that he needs to take and being aggressive."

Now, Arenas could possibly wind up starting on Tuesday against Toronto, with John Wall likely out with a sprained left foot suffered in that 103-96 loss to the Bulls. Arenas worked with the starters on practice on Monday and he seemed to have a decent chemistry with Kirk Hinrich on Saturday, when they helped the Wizards rally back from an 18-point second-half deficit. Hinrich likely wouldn't have a problem adjusting to playing with Arenas. "Me and Gil get along great," Hinrich said last week. "We've both been in this league long enough, have a mutual respect."

Arenas seemed to thrive with the ball in his hands, initiating the offense, instead of just standing around waiting for passes in the corner to shoot jumpers. He didn't have much success driving to the hoop, but he was finally able to connect on a layup in the fourth quarter. Wall credited Arenas for making a necessary adjustment before the Chicago game -- he stopped wearing himself out with his pre-game workouts. "He's just been pressing too much. Working too hard on his jump shot before games, and staying overnight too much. He took a day off and relaxed."

Arenas caught fire in Chicago, just as he did in his debut in New York, but he has yet to have a good shooting performance at Verizon Center, where Arenas is shooting just 20.6 percent (7 for 34) in three games. The Wizards would need Arenas to break free of his home shooting funk against Toronto if they are unable to have Wall or Blatche, who is nursing a sore left knee and still working himself back into shape after missing three months of action with a broken right foot.

After Monday's practice, Wall was using crutches and the possibility of him playing on Tuesday seemed slimmer. Saunders and a few players talked about the team's injuries.

A shoe free agent, Arenas has been wearing different shoes for nearly every game this season. He's worn the Penny Hardaways, Under Armours, and an assortment of Jordans. Arenas will likely wear several shoes from legendary players, including Allen Iverson, over the course of the year. looked at his shoe selections -- Jordans -- from over the weekend. takes a look at the ages of NBA rosters and shows that there is little different between the average of 15 players on the Wizards' roster and the players who actually get action each night.

In his Keys to the Palace, Bullets Forever's Jake Whitacre says Wall and Yi Jianlian shone in an uneven week.

Truth About It's Kyle Weidie posted some nice photos from Friday's home game against Charlotte.

By Michael Lee  | November 16, 2010; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: John Wall, Yi Jianlian to miss game against Toronto


Gil will love this, him alone in the spot-light. I know he's not the Gilbert of 5 years ago, perhaps he can re-invent himself as a Ray Allen type shooter.

Good Luck Gil

Posted by: closg | November 16, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Why on Earth would Flip play Wall tonight? No reason to burn the kid out less than 10 games into the season. Start Gil, hopefully he drops 35 in a W, and let some sort of controversy begin!

Posted by: divi3 | November 16, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Players are getting hurt, banged-up left and right and who's whistling a tune and healthy as a horse: Kirk Hinrich.

It's kinda funny - the guy who most of the posters have seen too much of couldn't be blasted out of the starting lineup with six sticks of dynamite.

Since he's clearly fated to be a starter, it'd be nice if he makes a contribution tonight. I guess he's the point guard and Gil's the shooting guard?

Posted by: ahwyatt | November 16, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, Toronto: Bargnani is their leading scorer at 19.5, with DeRozan also playing pretty well on offense, but the real surprise has been guard Sonny Weems, who's getting 12.7 points in 24 minutes, shooting 53%. Leandro Barbosa and Amir Johnson have also been playing well on offense. Barbosa could cause problems with his speed.

They managed to beat the Magic in Orlando and lose to the Heat in Miami. This is the third of four on the trip.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 16, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"Since he's clearly fated to be a starter, it'd be nice if he makes a contribution tonight. I guess he's the point guard and Gil's the shooting guard?Posted by: ahwyatt"

Gil will likely have the ball in his hands most of the time, same as during that abortive 32 game run last season. If Gilbert plays well, Hinrich will wind up playing defense and shooting a few from outside the arc -- no more, unless he gets hot.

And if you're looking for a sure thing, try repetitive complaints about Hinrich's play from a few folks on this blog. They haven't disappointed yet.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 16, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Since he's clearly fated to be a starter, it'd be nice if he makes a contribution tonight.

No expectations allowed. You're supposed to look at the box score after the game, then work backward from there assuming it had to be a solid contribution. Fill in any perceived gaps in performance with a large helping of "glue."

In all seriousness, if Wall/Dray/Yi are all out....several guys are going to have to pick up the scoring slack, KH will probably have to shoot a bit more and we may even see Nick get a fair share of burn. Could be Booker's chance to have a nice game as well- who knows, maybe Flip will sit all the questionable guys and let others get some run.

Posted by: divi3 | November 16, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Seems as though Gilbert gets the start by default. Would have been nice of Flip to say that Gilbert looks to be ready for the starting role and he thinks it is time for him to start.

It still appears open that if Wall is ready to go that Gilbert goes back to the bench and Hinrich still starts.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 16, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

also, it's quite possible that Gil/KH is a more effective backcourt (right now) than Wall/KH or Wall/Gil

Posted by: divi3 | November 16, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

So the wall arenas backcourt never materializes in the regular season

Posted by: jefferu | November 16, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"So the wall arenas backcourt never materializes in the regular season.Posted by: jefferu"

Probably will. Still 73 games to go, right?

Posted by: Samson151 | November 16, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"No expectations allowed. You're supposed to look at the box score after the game, then work backward from there assuming it had to be a solid contribution. Fill in any perceived gaps in performance with a large helping of "glue." posted by divi3"

LOL -- it took 36 minutes. At least he tries to disguise it.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Gil, just get in there and do your thing. We have been waiting for this. We love you, Gil!

Posted by: alr47 | November 16, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Can the Wiz ever get a player who does NOT get injured? I know every team deals with injuries but with the Wiz every player seems to miss games due to injury.

Posted by: fearturtle44 | November 16, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Gilberts head is the question. He seems to get anxiety about how the fans react to him. He needs the love. He works his rear end off to be the best he can be. All those posting about him dogging it were full of crap. An injury is an injury, whether he puffed it up or not. Now I think we all KNOW he was dealing with several different ailments. Over the years Gil has been the most devoted to becoming the superstar. This year he is seeing how a change in playing style can help the team be better. John Wall has been a good influence on him. He may have learned more than Wall. I am very impressed with Walls improvement with his jump shot. Maybe Gil helped him there, who knows. Booker needs to get his jump shot down if he is going to be on the floor more. All of his shots seem to rebound high and away from the basket.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | November 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I like about the injuries as a Wiz fan is that Gil will finally get to start and Im sure that once he starts, he will stay the starter. If Wall played then our idiot coach would probably still bring Gil off the bench for awhile. Not only does he bring him off the bench but he treats him like a regular bench player and brings him in with only like 2min left in the quarter. You can tell that it makes him nervous & throws his timing off, espically at home.

As a Wiz fan I think we will still win "if" Gil is right and thats a big if. He still seems nervous & scared at home while he also has a mental hurdle of attacking the rim hard & jumping high in the air. He'll miss 9 out of 10 layups now. You could argue its because of injury but I think alot of it is mental and he just has to be pushed to jump as high as he can at the rim. However, I think being a starter will help in all of that.

The one problem is that he will probably play alot of PG without Wall. The Wiz fans who do want him to come off the bench for a few more games and some local media see one problem as that Gil has struggled off the ball but been dominant with the ball in his hands. Thats a bad thing when you have him & Wall. I dont feel that way. I think it just seems like that because Gil is off the bench but if they both started then they could both have the rock enough to be happy & both clearly will help the other. We were dumb in the Preseason when Flip started Gil, Kirk, & Wall. I didnt like it because its too many ball handlers and its another guy to take the ball out of the hands of Wall & Gil but just those 2 togehter will be fine

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 16, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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