Gilbert Arenas is back and better, and ‘Nova makes the Final Four

By: 03.29.09  •  26 Comments

Gilbert Arenas

Are we seeing the early stages of a new, more mature Gilbert Arenas? The other day he announced his “retirement” from blogging, and instead of gunning for 40 in his season debut last night, Gil was clearly making an effort to pass the rock and get other guys their looks. Arenas finished with 15 points (3-12 FG) and 10 dimes against the Pistons, assisting on each of Washington’s first four buckets and not taking his first shot until Rip Hamilton left him wide open to stick a three … Not that he didn’t show any of the old love-him-or-hate-him Agent Zero: Down three with four seconds left, Arenas was sent to the line, making the first FT and missing the second. Gil chased down the rebound and ran to the corner to take a three, which Kwame Brown (of all people) blocked. In the post-game Arenas couldn’t even explain why he didn’t call a timeout or take the two-pointer and go for overtime … Even if Gilbert had hit that three, Saturday’s enduring image still would belong to Scottie Reynolds. “No one has won more games for Villanova than this guy,” Jay Wright said about Reynolds after his game-winner against Pitt sent ‘Nova to the Final Four. Tied with five seconds left, Pitt decided to full-court press — one of the first times they’d pressed all game and not the best move for a team that generally never plays like that. ‘Nova exploited the press with a Bryce Drew/hook-and-ladder play that got Reynolds (15 pts) a running start at the rim, where he hit a tough layup over DaJuan Blair (20 pts, 10 rebs) and Gilbert Brown with 0.5 on the clock. Fields missed a 3/4-court prayer at the end … Before Reynolds’ shot, though, ‘Nova almost gave the game away. They were up two with 10 seconds left and inbounding under Pitt’s basket when Reggie Redding tried to hit Dante Cunningham with a full-court TD pass, resulting in a turnover. Instead of Pitt having to foul and hope ‘Nova missed from the line, Levance Fields tied it up with two ice-vein free throws … Try and tell us Pitt’s Tyrell Biggs doesn’t look exactly like Michael Olowokandi … Missouri got UConn to play the up-and-down pace they wanted, they forced 17 Husky turnovers, and they did a solid job of taking away Hasheem Thabeet as a shot-blocker and scorer. Still, they couldn’t account for A.J. Price and Kemba Walker. The senior Price (18 pts) and freshman Walker (23 pts) consistently broke Missouri’s press and out-ran everybody to the bucket, as the Huskies survived their toughest challenge on the way to the Final Four … That’s two Big East teams in the Final Four, and Louisville tries to make it three later today. But the matchup everybody’s waiting for is Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough in the Oklahoma/UNC game. Somebody’s going to bleed in that one …

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds

The Suns are running out of time and losing too many important games if they’re still gonna sneak into the playoffs. Last night they came back from a 21-point deficit in Utah and actually led by seven well into the fourth quarter, but still managed to come up on the wrong end … Deron Williams hit a fadeaway with 25 seconds left to bring the Jazz within two, and after Phoenix botched the ensuing inbounds play, Deron (21 pts, 13 asts) hit Steve Nash with a crossover/pull-up J to force overtime. Utah took the lead in OT on Andrei Kirilenko‘s four-point play — his only field goal of the game — and never trailed after that … Awful defense is nothing new with the Warriors, but last night they were just lazy as Denver dropped 129 points on ’em (except for Kelenna Azubuike, who was trying but got dunked on like 3-4 times). The Nuggets were getting uncontested dunks and layups and wide-open threes whenever they wanted — it was like watching Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter (13 asts) play Duck Hunt — while the GS defenders would just stand there and look at each other like, “Why aren’t you all helping me?” Seven Nugget scored in double-figures, led by Carmelo‘s 31 points … During an in-game promo for the Dance Team contest, the camera did a slow-pan of the Nuggets’ dancers, and Denver’s color commentator suddenly went into Creepy Old-Man Mode. “Nice shot of the ladiessssss,” he hissed, blatantly leering at the girls … After Anthony Randolph tried to score on some unidentifiable post move, one of the Denver announcers said, “He needs to work with a big. You can tell.” … Other notable stats from Saturday: Dwyane Wade had 27 points, seven dimes and three steals in a win over Milwaukee; Gerald Wallace (who kind of owns this section of Smack) posted 23 points, nine boards, eight assists and three blocks in a win over New York; Ben Gordon scored 25 in a win over Indiana, while Danny Granger had 32 in the loss; and the Blazers defense held the Grizzlies to 66 points in a game where Darius Miles got booed every time he blinked by the Portland fans … Rockets/Clippers was over by halftime, when the Rockets led by 21 and Yao Ming (21 pts, 15 rebs) already had a double-double. One time Von Wafer air-balled two jumpers in a row, prompting Clyde Drexler to jokingly ask if there was a draft in the building. Then Eric Gordon air-balled a mid-range J by a mile, and Drexler sounded serious: “There really is a draft in here” … We’re out like Pitt …

Around The Web