Hughes's Defense Honored
Friday, May 13, 2005
Washington Wizards guard Larry Hughes, who led the league in steals in the regular season, was named to the NBA all-defensive first team yesterday, becoming the eighth player in franchise history to make the team. Hughes averaged 2.89 steals -- the highest average since Scottie Pippen led the NBA with 2.94 steals in 1994-95 -- and was third on the team with 6.3 rebounds.
"This is a well-deserved honor for Larry," said Coach Eddie Jordan, who led the league in steals in 1978-79.
Hughes was joined on the first team by Detroit's Ben Wallace, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen of San Antonio. "To be named with guys like Ben Wallace, Bruce, that's good," Hughes said, smiling. "This is my first time. I want to build on being that guy that plays defense and offense."
Hughes said he learned how to gamble more with steals after watching hours of film and noticing the tendencies of opponents, which hands they pass with, to whom they look to pass. He had impressive individual defensive performances against Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Richard Jefferson. Allen shot 13 of 40 in two games against Hughes, Bryant was 15 of 44 and Jefferson was 5 of 21. "That may be schoolyard. That's from way back," Hughes said. "If you score on guys, that's fine. But if a guy doesn't score on you, then it makes him look bad. That's kind of trash talk without the talking."
A Vote for Arenas
When point guard Gilbert Arenas heard the news, he congratulated Hughes and asked, "Did I get any votes?" Arenas was told that he received one vote from a panel that consisted of the NBA's 30 head coaches, and said, "I told you I wasn't that bad a defensive player."
"No way you got one vote," Brendan Haywood shouted back, suggesting that Arenas's college coach, Lute Olson, must have had a vote. (Haywood also got one vote.)
Olson attended last night's game and said he wasn't surprised to see Arenas perform at such a high level this season. "He was always a tremendous competitor," Olson said. "The bigger the game, the better he plays. He's very self-confident."