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Posted at 8:05 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

No shortage of story lines for tonight's matchup

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

There haven't been many highly anticipated, must-see nights at Verizon Center this season, but the Wizards' game on Friday against the Orlando Magic should be special if for no other reason than the return of Gilbert Arenas. Arenas captivated the District like few athletes before or after him, using electrifying play and an eccentric personality to connect with a beleaguered fan base in desperate need of a star.

His tenure ended sourly, and he became a polarizing figure when his injuries and later a gun incident created too much separation from his all-star appearances. Arenas feared getting booed when he played his first home preseason game after returning from his 50-game suspension, but he got cheered. And, no matter what reaction he gets, fans will certainly take note of his every move.

"It's going to be a good atmosphere," Coach Flip Saunders said. "Anytime a good team comes in here, our fans have a tendency to come out more and get into the game and sometimes they are going for the other team but that tends to stoke up our fans as well. Are our guys going to be excited to play? Yeah. They are excited to play. You have story lines. You have Gilbert who's coming back. who was a huge part of where this organization was at. You have Rashard Lewis, who was [in Orlando], a huge part of where they organization went from where it was at to becoming a contender."

The Wizards (13-35) are hoping to end a six-game losing streak and may have some problem keeping up with the Magic, especially if center JaVale McGee is unable to play. McGee jammed his toe during Thursday's practice and missed out on the final drills. Dwight Howard has always given the Wizards problems, with or without McGee.

Nick Young said the Wizards will be motivated by their last game against Magic, when they lost 100-99 and came within a Howard tip-in off pulling off an upset. Arenas scored a season-high 31 points in defeat, and possibly showed that his health was no longer a concern. "We've got to go out there and show them we're still here," Young said. "We fought hard last time. and we're going to try to get over that hump this time, especially for Rashard. We've got to have his back this time."

Saunders said that while it should be an emotional night, he doesn't want his players to get caught up in any individual duels. "We talked to our team about that. No one can, we can't play individually, at all. If that happens, you might have to take a guy out, sit him for a couple of minutes and take a look. From Gilbert, he doesn't start, he'll come off the bench. So it won't be there at the start."

Arenas is already familiar with the tendencies of his former teammates. He knows about Andray Blatche's behind-the-back dribble. He knows about Young's fadeaway. And he knows John Wall's preference to drive left. Blatche said he isn't worried about what Arenas knows.

"Everybody know everything about every player. That's why you have scouts," he said. "Nick's going to do what he do. John's still going to do what he do. I'm going to do what I do. We all going to work hard. We all going to play... We're going to go out hard, to the best of our abilities. I'm going to try to lead, as best as I can, try to get us a win."

When asked if the game was personal, Blatche said, "Every game is personal for us. especially for me. I always want to win. I like winning. I hate losing. That's my attitude, period. We're hungry. We're going out there for a win. We're not trying to be anybody's friend, that's our mindset. It's Friday night. It's the Wizards going against Orlando. Fans are going to be there. It's going to be crazy."

FROM THE POST
The blockbuster trade that sent Arenas to Orlando and brought Lewis to Washington came as the result of two stars becoming frustrated with their teams.

When Arenas checks in tonight at Verizon Center, columnist Mike Wise wonders if fans will remember what was or regret what might have been?

Dan Steinberg offers more tidbits from Arenas's interview and highlights of a Q&A session with Ted Leonsis (DC Sports Bog).

AROUND THE WEB
Chris Miller conducted a series of interviews with Arenas (CSNWashington.com).

Tom Ziller of SB Nation dug deeper into the Wizards' 0-25 road record.

The day after All-Star Game reserves were announced, Marc J. Spears offered his all-snubbed team (Yahoo! Sports).

Matt Moore breaks down LeBron James' 51-11-8 game last night against the Orlando Magic (CBSSports.com).

By Michael Lee  | February 4, 2011; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gilbert Arenas: "Maybe I wasn't worth the contract"
Next: Jump ball: How will the Wizards do tonight?

Comments

Before Sampson151 starts his propaganda- let us start this day with a wish... Grunfeld resign! Please.
.... But it may take an Egyptian-like uprising for him to leave... if then. You see, he loves the power and our MONEY. The results we take home are just our problem. The money is his to take home.

Posted by: member8 | February 4, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

"Before Sampson151 starts his propaganda- let us start this day with a wish... Grunfeld resign! Please." Posted by: member8

Good morning sock puppet!

I was wondering -- who around here is dim enough to post the above without bothering to learn to correctly spell my name?

I can think of a couple candidates...

Posted by: Samson151 | February 4, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

GRUNFELD will NOT resign, and LEONSIS will not make him. His make or break season will be 2013-14.......book it!!!!

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 4, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Before Sampson151 starts his propaganda- let us start this day with a wish... Grunfeld resign! Please.
.... But it may take an Egyptian-like uprising for him to leave... if then. You see, he loves the power and our MONEY. The results we take home are just our problem. The money is his to take home.

Posted by: member8

So, you just wanted to get your propaganda in first?

Posted by: ts35 | February 4, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Any hopes of a letdown game for the Magic are out the window, last night's loss will have them amped up and ready to crush us. Let's see who responds...

Posted by: divi3 | February 4, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Orlando is favored by 6 at the moment -- that could change by tonight. They've lost 3 of 5 and covered the spread only once.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 4, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I see the Clippers are welcoming trade offers for Chris Kaman. He's been out with an ankle since early December, so wouldn't be much until next year. Offensive-minded, good rebounder, needs a dozen shots a game to make an impact. Contract is awkward (2 years, $24 million). Somebody will want him, but probably not Washington.

Here's a weird bit: even with the monster season that Blake Griffin is having, the Clips are on course to make about a 4 game improvement in their record.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 4, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

GRUNFELD will NOT resign, and LEONSIS will not make him. His make or break season will be 2013-14.......book it!!!!

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 4, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree. Someone said we can't bank on getting a Durant to go with Wall...I can't remember who....but Wall is our Durant.

So we're in the "Seattle" year of the OKC plan. Next year should be a little better than this...and I expect them to be very competitive the next season.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 4, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering -- who around here is dim enough to post the above without bothering to learn to correctly spell my name?
Samson151
-- U know what the inserted p stands for, of course... it's what you do.

Posted by: member8 | February 4, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

and because you are dim it starts with p and ends with p.

Posted by: member8 | February 4, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Could Arenas possibly drop forty tonight in a sold out Verizon Center? Just imagine. One can only dream.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

and because you are dim it starts with p and ends with p.

Posted by: member8 | February 4, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Damn I guess I'm dim too because I promise I'm at my desk trying to figure it out.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 4, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I expect Nick to have a huge night, and Lewis vs. Turkoglu to be the most interesting match-up.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 4, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I expect Nick to have a huge night, and Lewis vs. Turkoglu to be the most interesting match-up.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 4, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The Turk might take it to Shard, i thought Turkey was the better of the two when orlando had them, seems like they might have thought so too given the pains they took on to get Turkey back and get rid of Shard. I'm not sold on NY having a great game tonight, for whatever reason i think JRich is a good matchup against him. I also don't know how he's gonna react playing against Gil if they're matched up. Can the student defeat the teacher? LLS

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 4, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice that the Orlando players kind of freeze Gilbert out of their offense. I think that is why Stan subbed Gilbert for the Dukey on the last chance to tie the game.

And then it backfired, with none of the presumed shooters, Jameer, Richardson, or the Dukey(Reddick) getting the shot.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I expect Nick to have a huge night, and Lewis vs. Turkoglu to be the most interesting match-up.

Posted by: djnnnou

The Turk might take it to Shard, i thought Turkey was the better of the two when orlando had them, seems like they might have thought so too given the pains they took on to get Turkey back and get rid of Shard. I'm not sold on NY having a great game tonight, for whatever reason i think JRich is a good matchup against him. I also don't know how he's gonna react playing against Gil if they're matched up. Can the student defeat the teacher? LLS

Posted by: lilhollywood10

Problem for NY being mainly that it's not just a one on one matchup. Orlando generally is a good defensive team and Nick is one of the few guys they have to worry about. My guess is that they will make it tough for him to get looks.

Posted by: ts35 | February 4, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I think the student will do well. The teacher might be just as happy to do well period for himself.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice that the Orlando players kind of freeze Gilbert out of their offense. I think that is why Stan subbed Gilbert for the Dukey on the last chance to tie the game.

And then it backfired, with none of the presumed shooters, Jameer, Richardson, or the Dukey(Reddick) getting the shot.

LarryInClintonMD.


Actually Larry, I think it was the result of SVG's structured offense.

Posted by: ts35 | February 4, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Watched the Heat-Magic game last night and it was the best thing possible for us. Heat were in control the whole way to the point where I thought SVG shouldve pulled his main guys with like 8min left and gave up but he kept them in and they fought so hard all the way to the end just to lose a tight one and Howard played 48min.

I see Flip going back to the McGee-Dray frontcourt. I still think Dray has slimmed down and will play really well from here on out. I think he can kill Anderson if we play right and they have no other backup big with Bass injuried. He should be our go to guy.

Booker has dissapeared the last couple of games with McGee's return and we still have some hope that Dray-McGee can be our frontcourt of the future so I say we will give them one more long look to know where we stand heading into the offseason.

Before last game I thought NY looked like the old NY in the previous 2 or 3 games. Chucking bad shots with blinders on but last game he played alot smarter again like he's done pretty much all year. He always plays well at home. Him vs Richardson will be classic.

Lewis will bring the energy against his former team and should play solid against his old friend Turk. I actually believe this game comes down to Gil. For some reason I really like us in this game. I think those 48min and the L will hurt Howard while I think Dray will beast in this game. I think we are motivated at home, will have the crowd behind us against Gil, and I think our guys will really want to beat Gil. I truly like us in this game.

The reason I said it comes down to Gil is because he has sucked since early on when he got there but over the last 2 games he's looked physically much better. He seems to have his burst back somewhat but he's struggling with trying to find a rythm while coming off the bench so late every game and then everyone on there team has the green light so he may hit 2 in a row and instead of getting it every time like he would here, he watches guys like Reddick & Anderson jackup shots with no consience.

He's not use to that yet. Still, he seems like he's trying to pick it up right before he got to this game so he could play well. Hopefully he is mentally weak again and comes out passive. I know Kirk will be aggressive on him defensivley. I think the crowd will boo more then applaud. Its one of those things where he could fold, play solid, or beast and it will inspire that team the rest of the year like the Heat did when they won at the Cavs. Should be an exicting game.

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 4, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Well shut my mouth, ts35, structured offense, you don't say, good fella.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I think if Arenas by some strange chance gets a rythum and hits like two threes the crowd will start to cheer him.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The Turk might take it to Shard, i thought Turkey was the better of the two when orlando had them, seems like they might have thought so too given the pains they took on to get Turkey back and get rid of Shard. Posted by: lilhollywood10

Hedo's more valuable to Orlando, for sure. But that doesn't make him a better player, just better in that system. The opposite could be true if Jameer was a better playmaker.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 4, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Nick Young and Jason Richardson in the same sentence as the word classic.

I've seen it all Jesus. I'm ready to come home.

Blatche got roasted by Jason Smith. I think Ryan Anderson can give him some trouble because he can pull him out on the perimiter. You know Dray isn't a fan of all that moving and stuff.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 4, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

rhythm...correction

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Seraphin played Howard well last time so this may be a game for him. I wouldnt even be shocked if Flip started Seraphin over Mcgee & Booker but I think he goes with McGee 1st

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 4, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I actually think that Seraphin should be consistently logging backup Center minutes every game. I've seen enough of his play and at this point his greenness is not a consideration for me not to have him as my first center option off the bench every game.

I think in the long run it will be a huge benefit to have him playing regular consistent backup mpg.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 4, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

So we're in the "Seattle" year of the OKC plan. Next year should be a little better than this...and I expect them to be very competitive the next season.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 4, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

How'd that work out for Seattle?


just playin

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 4, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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