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Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Dramatic entrance, reverse layup mark Arenas' return to Wizards

ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Gilbert Arenas made a surprise return to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, playing his first game since knee surgery in November.

Showing his flare for the dramatic, Arenas waited until the 5:30 mark of the first quarter of the Wizards' game against the Milwaukee Bucks to emerge from the locker room wearing his No. 0 jersey.

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas

He entered the game 9 seconds later to a large ovation and scored on a reverse layup with 4:49 left in the first, his first points since Nov. 16 against Minnesota. He made his first four shots before missing a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving him 10 points in the quarter.

At halftime, Arenas was the Wizards' leading scorer. He had 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting despite playing only 8 minutes.

He finished with 17 points in 20 minutes, but the Wizards lost 110-109 on a last-second jumper by Ramon Sessions.

Before the winning shot, there was a chaotic sequence that left All-Star forward Antawn Jamison with a sprained right shoulder and DeShawn Stevenson with a sprained right ankle. Both had X-rays and will be re-evaluated Thursday.

That could sidetrack the Wizards again as they try to return to full strength. Also Wednesday, forward Caron Butler (strained left hamstring) and Antonio Daniels (sprained left wrist) were back in the starting lineup after missing Monday's loss to the Utah Jazz.

Agent Zero played with his leg covered in a black supportive sleeve. He wore his new red signature shoes, which clashed badly with his white-and-blue uniform and the white-and-blue shoes worn by his teammates.

Arenas' return was befitting of the unpredictable three-time All-Star guard. He did not take part in the morning shootaround -- usually a prerequisite for playing in the game -- and assistant coach Mike O'Koren said before the game that Arenas wouldn't return until "he gets his mind right."

Arenas' comeback also came 10 days after he stormed out of the locker room before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Arenas wanted to play, but he didn't get clearance from his doctor.

The doctor gave the go-ahead during the Wizards' West Coast road trip, which ended Monday, but Arenas did not play in any of the games. He had previously said he wanted to make his return at home.

Arenas tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in the first quarter of a game against Charlotte last April and had season-ending surgery. He rushed his rehabilitation over the summer and lasted only eight games before requiring two more procedures on Nov. 21, fixing a partial tear of the meniscus and repairing a non-weight bearing bone on the side of his knee.

The timetable for Arenas' return varied over the months. He said he didn't want to rush his rehab again, but he was also anxious to join the Wizards before the playoffs. Adding to the drama was his announcement that he will opt out of his contract this summer, although he has often stated his desire to remain with the Wizards.

Arenas returned to practice last month. After he was rebuffed in his effort to play against Cleveland, he wrote in his blog that he would likely have to be a part-time player when he did return because there wasn't enough time in the season to regain his old form.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.