Gilbert Arenas talked a lot of smack heading into his team's series against the Cavs. But Agent Zero came up empty when it counted in Game 1, misfiring badly on several key shots late in the game as the Wilters, er Wizards, turned a two-point lead with just over two minutes left into a 93-86 defeat.
Arenas finished with a team-high 24 points. He sparked the Wizards with a barrage of three-pointers in the first half -- including a ridiculous one from 10 feet beyond the three-point line. He also helped shift the tempo in Washington's favor for a key spell in the second half.
But in the end, when it counted, LeBron James delivered. Arenas did not.
If Arenas wants to call himself "the best fourth-quarter player in the league," he needs to back it up. The Cavs prevailed playing their style. Defensive. Low-scoring. They got just enough help from guys like Delonte West (16 points), Daniel Gibson (11) and Wally Szczerbiak (eight). Mike Brown also made a nice adjustment, taking LeBron off the ball more in the second quarter after it was clear the Wizards' D was loading up on the King. Antawn Jamison kept the Wizards in the game all afternoon. He not only scored 23 points but he was all over the backboards, grabbing 19 rebounds -- many in traffic against the taller Cavs frontcourt players. Jamison did miss some big shots late, but all in all it was a great effort. Jamison is in a contract year as an unrestricted free agent, and it looks as if he's out to show in this series that he's worth big money. Cleveland benefited from a huge advantage in free throw attempts (37 to 17), but don't blame the officials. LeBron was attacking the basket, taking it in (while absorbing some hard fouls) or drawing enough attention to set up teammates inside. Other than Brendan Haywood (15 points), the Wizards could not find much room in the paint. Hence, few trips to the line. The series was chippy, as expected. It wasn't just that dust-up between LeBron and Haywood before the halftime horn, either. Earlier in the game, LeBron got whacked across the face by Andray Blatche on a drive to the rim. The next time down, James sneakily elbowed Blatche in the chin as he followed through after a whistle on a foul. Mark it down, there will be more fireworks in this series before it's finished.
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