Raps aim to contain Wizards

MIKE KOREEN

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

If the Raptors are lucky, the Washington Wizards still will be feeling the effects of a huge Friday night birthday bash today at the Air Canada Centre.

Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, who turned 25 yesterday, put on a massive birthday party for himself at a club Friday night, inviting hip-hop stars like Game, T.I., Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. P. Diddy hosted the 4,000-person party and guests needed a Black Arenas Express card to enter.

Coming off that soiree, the Wizards could experience a bit of trouble today in their first afternoon game of the season.

Arenas, who scored 35 points and added a season-high 12 assists in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers before the party Friday, is on a serious tear. He has scored 40-plus points six times this season, including an NBA season-high 60-point outing, and is a candidate for MVP honours.

"It's a matter of containing him," Raptors star Chris Bosh said. "Because, I mean, he takes a lot of shots and he hits a lot of shots. It's like Steve Nash, you don't think they're going in, but he practises those every day and he hits them on a consistent basis. We really can't expect him to miss some of the shots he takes."

Arenas also was named the Eastern Conference player of the month for December.

"The scary thing about it is you assume he's going to get 30 on a bad night," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "On a good night, he can go for 50 or 55."

While Arenas can hit shots from anywhere on the court, the Raptors would prefer to make him shoot instead of cut and draw fouls.

"What I talked to our players about is we can't give them easy baskets and can't put them on the free-throw line shooting a lot of free throws," Mitchell said. "When you keep him off the free-throw line, (Arenas) still might get 27, but he won't get 40."

BRIEFLY

With a 105-92 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, Mitchell moved ahead of Butch Carter into second on the Raptors' coaching list with 74 wins. Lenny Wilkens leads the way with 113.


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