If Larry Hughes has his way, he'll draw former teammate Gilbert Arenas tonight when Arenas and the Washington Wizards face Hughes and the Cavaliers at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Hughes is well aware of the fact that Arenas is one of the hottest players in the NBA right now, having totaled 75 points in weekend wins over the Seattle SuperSonics and San Antonio Spurs. Those performances helped Arenas earn Eastern Conference player of the week honors.
"I will ask for him and guard him," said Hughes, who is averaging 14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game for the 5-2 Cavaliers, who will give a Larry Hughes bobblehead to every fan in attendance tonight.
"I like that matchup; I know what he can do. It's basically his team and he's getting all the looks right now. He's a rhythm player and he can get you on your heels. I'm going to go at him early and make him play defense and take it from there."
Arenas maintains regular contact with Hughes and the two planned to get together after the Wizards arrived in Cleveland last night. Arenas, who is averaging 28.5 points and six assists per game, chuckled when told about Hughes's request.
"The last time he stuck me, I scored 41 points when he was [with the Wizards] and I was with the Warriors," Arenas said. "You print that. He's going to laugh about that one because I tease him about it all of the time."
Arenas believes he is a better player than he was on March, 23, 2003, when he poured in what was then a career-high 41 points in a Golden State victory over Hughes and the Wizards. Arenas has always been deadly off the dribble and has always possessed range on his jump shot, but this season, he's going to the basket stronger than ever and has unveiled an improved in-between game, hurting defenses by hitting jumpers in the 8- to 15-foot range.
"We used to have our words down there, a lot of trash talking," Arenas said. "It should be fun to see what he recalls from last year because I do have a different game from last year."
Ramos Assigned to Dazzle
The Wizards have assigned second-year center Peter John Ramos to the team's NBA Development League affiliate, the Roanoke Dazzle. Roanoke opens play Nov. 18. Ramos, who was selected by the Wizards in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2004 NBA draft, appeared in six games last season and was inactive for the first six games this season.
The eight-team D-League was revamped under the new collective bargaining agreement to better suit players like the 20-year old Ramos, a 7-foot-3, 287-pounder who has flashed potential but needs the kind of game experience he can't get with a deep, playoff contender like the Wizards.
"We have a plan as far as getting him some games down there, getting him back up here for some practice time and probably activate him for a game somewhere along the line," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "It's a development thing for him."
Rules allow teams to assign players in their first or second seasons to the D-League up to three times per season with no limit to how long the player can remain with the affiliate. Jordan said the Wizards will also consider assigning rookie forward Andray Blatche to the D-League. Blatche, who has appeared in one game, missed training camp and the entire preseason.