By Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 1, 2008
CLEVELAND, April 30 -- On Wednesday morning, not long after the team's shoot-around practice, Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards' medical personnel decided to have Arenas sit for whatever remains of the team's season.
From the moment he came back on April 2 after missing 66 games with a left knee injury, Arenas knew he faced a race against time, and on Wednesday night, before the Wizards and Cavaliers played Game 5, time ran out.
Arenas, who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Nov. 21, has been bothered by a bone bruise and a pinched nerve in the knee throughout this series, in which he averaged 10.8 points and 2.8 assists in 23.5 minutes.
He said he knew something wasn't right with the knee after Washington's blowout victory in Game 3. Still, he played more than 32 minutes in Game 4 and felt he had nothing left afterward.
"It hurts," said Arenas, who missed last year's playoffs with a left knee injury and aggravated the injury in November. "I did my rehab the right way so I could come back for this time of year, so for me not to be able to perform at a high level makes it even more frustrating. You know you have it in you, but your leg is telling you otherwise, so let's put out the healthy bodies."
Arenas said his main concern was that he was hurting the team by trying to play injured. Except for a scoring burst in Game 1 and brief stretches of Game 3 and 4, Arenas lacked the explosion and lateral quickness that helped him make three straight all-star appearances and made him one of the most dangerous scorers in the league.
"I'm out there limping around on one leg not really helping the team, so it's better if [Antonio Daniels] goes in there," Arenas said. "I don't feel that I can really help us right now. We decided to just go ahead, shut it down and get ready for next season."
Arenas said his current problem does not involve the meniscus and that he will not require a third surgery on the left knee.
"Structurally, everything is good," Arenas said. "I got an MRI after Game 3 because after that game, I was thinking that something had to be wrong but the MRI showed that it was just the nerve. If it wasn't for the nerve thing, I think I could have pushed through this but the knee is just not responding after games."
Arenas, who can opt out of the final season of his contract by July 1 to become an unrestricted free agent, would not discuss his future on Wednesday. He did say that he still has not hired an agent and does not plan to do so.
"Right now, it's the playoffs," Arenas said. "We'll talk about free agency when it's free agency time. All I can look forward to right now is getting 100 percent."
Asked by reporters when he found out that Arenas was not playing, Coach Eddie Jordan replied, "When he was talking to you guys." Pause. "Was that a shock to everybody?"Wizards Put Wallace on Line
On Tuesday, Jordan said he would prefer not to resort to intentionally fouling Cavaliers forward Ben Wallace, who is one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history. But in the fourth quarter, with 4 minutes 36 seconds remaining, the Wizards turned to the tactic.
At the time, the Wizards trailed 80-77 and after Antonio Daniels intentionally fouled him, Wallace missed two free throws and fouled Butler while trying to chase down the second miss. Butler made one of two free throws and Cleveland Coach Mike Brown took Wallace out of the game.
"We got one point out of it so it worked," Jordan said. "We had good defense, we stopped them, then LeBron had too much of a straight line drive to the basket. Then after that, I said, if LeBron is going to do that, let's foul. He found the weakness that we knew was there and we said, next possession, let's foul."Better on the Boards
After the Cavaliers outrebounded them 51-31 in Game 4, the Wizards held their own Wednesday night when Cleveland finished with a 40-39 edge. Most important, the Wizards limited the Cavaliers to 12 offensive rebounds after giving up 18 in Game 4.