A Magical Loss

By Carla Peay, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: November 27, 2010

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WASHINGTON (BASN) — We are now one month into the NBA season, and there is a strange sense of déjà vu with the Washington Wizards — an under .500 record, blow-out losses against decent teams, and inspiring competitive flair against good teams.

And the return of the player formerly known as Agent Zero now sporting a No. 9 jersey and dazzling the Verizon Center crowds once again.

Following a crushing road loss against the Atlanta Hawks on Thanksgiving Day, the Wizards welcomed the Orlando Magic Saturday night and their gaudy 12-4 record, as compared to the 5-9 mark by the Wizards.

The Wizards kept the score within 10 to 12 points through most of the first three quarters, but turned on the jets in the fourth, with a 31-point performance by Arenas and 21points by Nick Young as the Wizards finally pulled ahead halfway through the final quarter.

The teams battled back and forth in the final seconds, with Arenas missing a final shot with 4.3 seconds to give the Magic the one-point win. “We competed. We had opportunities”, said head coach Flip Saunders.

“I thought that we could have very easily hung our heads when we got in a situation and got down 12, but we fought back. We had some great individual play. It was the first time we really competed against a good team.”

Magic center Dwight Howard led all scorers with 32 points and 11 rebounds. “We wanted to rap Howard up and not let him get layups”, Saunders added.

“You know we gave him too many layups. You got to keep on sending him to the free-throw line, especially late in the game. We let him get a couple of put-backs without putting him at the line.”

With point guard John Wall sidelined with an injury, it was once again the Gilbert Arenas Show, and despite the one-point loss at the buzzer, Arenas drained enough jumpers to bring the Verizon Center crowd to their feet many times.

“We were fighting in the first half but our shots weren’t going down”, Arenas said.

“Me and Kirk (Hinrich) were struggling. Nick was playing and hitting his shots. We thought if we can hang in here, once we get our shots going down, the way we played, we felt like we did get it.”

“It’s not like one of those losses like we felt in Atlanta where it’s a dagger to the heart. We felt like we played hard enough to win. We have to take away this momentum and play against the Heat.”

Saunders would not call the close loss a “moral victory”, but it was clear that the team looked better than they had all season, and turned in the kind of performance that Saunders has been waiting to see out of his squad.

As for Arenas, he is back to tossing his jersey in the stands, and playing with what appears to be a spring in his step. Gone is the sulky, sullen figure that we saw at the beginning of the year, and after last season’s misadventures, the hope is for his continued health, and redemption.

Next up are the Big Three of the Miami Heat on the road, who are facing their own well documented early season struggles.

Let the games continue.