- According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Gilbert Arenas has officially brought Agent Zero out of retirement. During media day, Arenas vowed to stop showing the media that side of personality, but the six (now seven) game losing streak caused him to reconsider. Tonight, Arenas put up very good numbers (19 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) but even with his Agent Zero moniker back in tow, he still struggled to find a rhythm. After the game, Arenas attempted to explain his lack of comfort: “In Eddie’s[Jordan] system, we needed me to score 30, in this system I don’t have to, so not shooting for a whole quarter doesn’t really bother me because we have other players that’s scoring. But then when I try to get in the rhythm, I just don’t have that feel, so I have to try to find a way to get myself in the game the whole time.”
– Prior to the game, Coach Flip Saunders mentioned that Mike Miller’s return from a shoulder injury would spread the floor and help Arenas and others get open shots, and for most of the game he did just that. Miller scored 20 points, and was able to knock down several open shot, which helped Arenas, Earl Boykins, Andray Blatche and Caron Butler get excellent open looks from the outside. But during a crucial point towards the end of the game, at the 2:34 mark of the fourth quarter, Miller was removed from the lineup with the Wizards up two points. During the next two minutes of the game while Miller was out, and the lineup of Butler, Blatche, Haywood, Arenas and Boykins were in the game, the absence of Miller was noticeable. On two separate occasions the floor spacing was terrible, and both Boykins and Arenas took contested, rushed shots. The lead disappeared with Miller on the bench, and the Pistons went up by two points. With 48 seconds left, Miller returned, but the Wizards never led again.
– Coach Saunders mentioned that he expected newly acquired guard Earl Boykins to play about 10-15 minutes tonight. When asked how Boykins was grasping the system, Saunders mentioned that he was not worried about that at all. “He understands everything, he’s pretty knowledgeable, guys that have been around the league a long time–you know we played against him a couple time in the playoffs, and when you play against a team in the playoffs you know them so well, you know their sets, their plays.”
– Boykins ended up playing 31 minutes tonight, and he scored 20 points–11 of which came in the second quarter. After the game, a disappointed Boykins discussed his performance: “It feels good to be back, but more importantly, its going to take me time before I feel comfortable.”
– Boykins also discussed his comfort with playing with Arenas as they were teammates at Golden State during the ’02-’03 season: “It’s easier playing with Gil, because he’s someone that I know, but I have to develop the same type of chemistry with the other guys.”
– Randy Foye, who was out with an injured ankle, was definitely missed during tonight’s game. His primary role was to be both a sidekick and a backup to Gilbert Arenas, and tonight that was sorely missed. Despite the brilliant play of Boykins, there was a point in both the third and fourth quarters, where he simply ran out of gas. And on the defensive end of the floor, Pistons’ guards Will Bynum and Ben Gordon seemed to be getting into the lane at will, and that is also an area where the 6’4″ Foye could have been much more effective than the 5’5″ Boykins. And with Arenas admittedly still trying to find his rhythm on both ends of the floor, Foye would have been perfect.
– Coach Saunders raved about the game of Will Bynum during his pregame media session, and he mentioned that his potential was the catalyst for the Pistons trading Chauncey Billups early last season. Tonight, all of Bynum’s attributes were on the display. He got into the lane at will, he was a disruptive force on the defensive end of the floor when Boykins and Arenas attempted to bring the ball up, and he even attempted to throw the ball down over Brendan Haywood. He finished with 20 points, six assists and eight rebounds. Even Arenas had to marvel at Bynum’s play after the game: “Everybody in this league is here for a reason, and he’s good at pick and roll and getting in the lane.”
– The Pistons signed free agent Charlie Villaneuva and Ben Gordon during the offseason to give their team more scoring options to compliment Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. With Hamilton and Prince out due to injury, Villanueva and Gordon were thrust into prominent roles for tonight’s game, and neither one disappointed. Villanueva, despite fouling out of the game, had his inside/outside game on display all night. He scored 25 points, which included 4-7 shooting from the 3 point line, he grabbed seven rebounds, and he proved to be a difficult matchup for the Wizards all evening. Gordon was 5-8 from the three point line en route to 29 points, and he hit some big shots both in and out of the lane down the stretch. I’d say that trade is paying dividends, and will continue to do so when everyone gets healthy.
Final score: Pistons 106 Wizards 103