Trevor Ariza moving up Wizards’ single-season three-point list

Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) reacts in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Keep leaving me open. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

With 21 games remaining, Trevor Ariza is 62 three-pointers away from setting a new Wizards single-season franchise record. That would appear to be difficult challenge, but based on his proficiency from three-point range since Feb. 1, Ariza should only need 19 games to break Gilbert Arenas’s record of 205, set in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

Based on his long-distance shooting over the past six games, Ariza could set a new mark in about, oh, 15 games. Ever since he missed his only attempt against New Orleans on Feb.22, Ariza has unleashed what he likes to call “the flamethrower.”

Ariza has shot 26 of 40 (65 percent) from three-point range – including his 4-of-6 performance on Wednesday night in the Wizards’ 104-91 victory over the Utah Jazz – in the past six games. To put his recent hot streak with three-pointers in perspective, Ariza is more accurate from beyond the three-point line than teammates Otto Porter Jr., Nene and Trevor Booker are from the free throw line this season.

“Just shooting the ball a lot. That’s all,” Ariza said when asked about the reason for his improved shooting. “A lot of reps before practice, during practice, on off days. Getting in the gym and shooting.”

In his past 10 games, Ariza has set the Wizards’ franchise record for three-pointers in a quarter (seven) and a game (10) and become the first player in team history to have two quarters in a season with at least six made three-pointers without a miss. Ariza has also canned a shot from beyond the half-court line in a win over Atlanta that made him joke that he does “spectacular stuff like that all the time.”

He is shooting 53 of 99 (53.5 percent) from three-point range since Feb. 1, which would rank third in the NBA over that time among players who have attempted at least 40 three-pointers. No one in the league who has attempted at least 10 three-pointers over the past six games is even close to Ariza from deep over that span, in which he is also averaging 22.3 points and scored a career-high 40 points – with eight three-pointers – in Philadelphia.

John Wall’s penetration and ability to push the tempo after defensive rebounds has created several opportunities for Ariza to set up and repeatedly drop wide-open shots. Ariza ranks sixth in average three-pointers per game (2.57), eighth in made three-pointers (144) and 11th in three-point percentage (43.1). He also has posted 16 games with at least four made three-pointers, which it tied for fourth in the NBA.

“I wish it was me,” Coach Randy Wittman said when asked what the team has done to get Ariza going. “And then I would do it for everybody.”

Before this season, Ariza’s career high for three-pointers in a season was 136 – on 407 attempts – in 2009-10 with the Houston Rockets. Last season, Ariza made just 76 three-pointers when he shot a career-high 36.4 percent from long distance. He smiled when asked if he is getting better looks because teams still don’t respect him as a shooter, given his reputation as a defensive specialist.

“I hope so. If that’s the case, that’ll work for me,” Ariza said, but it has “definitely been ball movement. We’ve been moving the ball really well as a team. Rebounding on the defensive end and getting out in transition has been big for us as a whole. Not only myself but Brad [Beal], Al [Harrington] and everybody else who shoot threes as well.”

DeShawn Stevenson has the most three-pointers made in a season since Arenas matched his franchise record total seven years ago, with 158 in 2007-08. Martell Webster had 139 made three-pointers last season.

Ariza is now four three-pointers away from passing Antawn Jamison for the fourth-highest single-season total (147), 15 three-pointers away from passing Tracy Murray and Stevenson for the third-highest total (158), and 56 away from leaping Gilbert Arenas for the second-highest total (199).

The franchise record would require Ariza to maintain his blistering pace.

“He’s in a good rhythm,” Wittman said of Ariza. “He’s playing at a high level.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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