Arenas stuck on practice time

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Gilbert Arenas threw himself a 4,000-person birthday bash on Friday, but the Washington Wizards' star guard said the real reason for his rare off-game yesterday at the Air Canada Centre was because of the early start time.

Arenas, the NBA's third-leading scorer, was hassled by the Raptors into 7-of-19 shooting, but still managed to produce 33 points thanks to 17 free throws.

"In the past four years, I don't think we ever played well in a 1 o'clock game," Arenas said following the Wizards' 116-111 loss to the Raptors.

"In the NBA, that's a weird time, especially for your body because it's usually your practice time, and 1 o'clock practice, you know how that goes.

"The shots weren't falling and we weren't getting stops. That's the game today."

In the midst of some loud MVP talk, Arenas has been on a tear of late -- averaging 36 points a game in his past nine contests before yesterday -- with 60- and 54- point gems in the past three weeks.

Raptors guard T.J. Ford said stopping Arenas is never easy, but felt he did a creditable job yesterday afternoon.

"We got the win didn't we?" Ford said. "When you're playing with somebody who is one of the best in the league, you've got to just make it tough for them.

"Some of the tricks they're going to come up with, you've just got to be prepared for. He tried to get me up in the air a couple of times, but I stayed disciplined and stayed down."

CLUTCH SHOOTER

Much of the Arenas-for- MVP chatter has emerged because of his ability to nail the clutch shot.

The 25-year-old hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer yesterday and now has made an amazing 10 shots so far this season with three or fewer seconds remaining at the end of a quarter, half or game. Seven of those shots have been threes.

"I'm just comfortable shooting them," Arenas said. "I work on them all day. To me, it's not about the shot clock. It's about whether I get a good look or not."

The Wizards, meanwhile, are now 16-2 this season in games in which Arenas scores 30 or more points.


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