Thursday , Jan , 18 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Wizards’ Arenas in a zone of his own

(Sports Network) – Everyone in the Verizon Center this past Monday afternoon
knew what the Washington Wizards were going to do in the closing seconds of
their tie game with the Utah Jazz. The Jazz knew as well, but they still
couldn’t stop Gilbert Arenas.

With 11 seconds remaining in regulation and the teams deadlocked at 111-111,
Arenas took an inbounds pass at the top of the circle and ran the clock down
before calmly burying the game-winning 26-footer with Utah’s Deron Williams in
his face. The basket capped an awesome afternoon for the All-Star guard, who
finished with 51 points and sunk 7-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc. He had
12 of Washington’s final 14 points.

“Sensational, I don’t know what more you can say,” Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan
said of Arenas’ performance. “We just didn’t seem to have much of an answer
for him.”

There have been plenty of NBA teams saying the same thing after playing the
Wizards this season. Arenas solidified his status as one of the league’s most
dangerous scorers in 2005-06, when he averaged 29.3 points per game, and has
been equally as prolific this campaign. The sixth-year sharpshooter leads all
players in three pointers made (3.1 avg.) and his 29.9 points per game scoring
average is second-best in the NBA at the moment.

Simply put, the 25-year-old has been the single biggest reason why Washington
currently sits atop the Southeast Division. The Wizards have vaulted into
first place by winning 16 of their last 22 games, and Arenas has averaged
better than 33 points over that stretch.

And he’s been clutch as well. Monday’s buzzer-beater marked the 11th time
Arenas has ended a game or a quarter with a basket. He’s had 40 or more points
seven times this season, and the Wizards have won six of those contests.

The 51-point effort tied a Verizon Center record set by the legendary Michael
Jordan in 2001, the future Hall of Famer’s first season in Washington.

The Wizards followed up the Utah win with another last-second home victory on
Wednesday. This time Caron Butler was the hero, as the rugged forward dunked
home a DeShawn Stevenson feed with 2.2 seconds left to give Washington a 99-98
decision over the New York Knicks. Butler ended with team bests of 27 points
and 10 assists.