Iverson's replacement, Willie Green, scored a career-high 32
points and kept the game close for 3½ quarters Wednesday night
before Arenas and the Washington Wizards closed strong to take a
117-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I'm kind of like, 'Aw, AI's not here.' As a professional you
know you've got to get over that," Arenas said. "I was still
hyped, but Willie Green? OK, he doesn't really do anything.
"But he took over AI's spot, and in the second half it was
like, 'OK, AI is out there.' "
Arenas finished with 33 points, six rebounds and a season-high
nine assists for the Wizards, who won their fourth straight and --
exactly halfway through the season -- remain on pace for their best
record in 26 years. Washington has won eight in a row at home and
11 of 13 overall since New Year's Day.
"We can't be happy about where we are," said Arenas, averaging
32.4 points over his last five games. "We have more things to
accomplish. Everything that we have done to this point is nice, but
there is no glory in half-season standings."
The last four victories have come without Larry Hughes, who has
a broken thumb, but Arenas, Juan Dixon (22 points) and Antawn
Jamison (23) have more than compensated for the missing points and
defense. Dixon, who missed the last two games with the flu, scored
14 in the fourth quarter, when the Wizards overcame a seven-point
deficit and finished with a 20-9 run.
"We'll just get in a comfort zone sometimes," Arenas said.
"And when we get down, we know in that fourth quarter we've got to
click it on. And for some reason that's what we did."
Iverson, the NBA's scoring leader, sat out with a strained left
rotator cuff, the result of a fall in Monday's victory over Miami.
Iverson has missed three games this season, and the 76ers have lost
Green proved a more than able substitute when it came to
scoring, but he had four of the team's 20 turnovers. Without a true
ballhandler, the 76ers succumbed to the Wizards' pressure down the
stretch. They were also hurt by Washington's 17 offensive rebounds.
"(Iverson) obviously plays with a lot of heart and a lot of
intensity, but just because he's not here doesn't mean that we're
not going to show that same heart," said Kyle Korver, who scored
15 points. "I thought we really did a good job until halfway
through the fourth quarter. Those turnovers and those offensive
rebounds were the story of the game."
Green's rebound and baseball pass to Andre Iguodala for a
fast-break dunk gave Philadelphia a 98-97 lead with 6:40 to play,
but that was last of the game's 16 lead changes. The 76ers didn't
score again for four minutes while the Wizards ran off 11 straight
points, mostly from the free throw line, to pull ahead 108-98 with
Green finished with six rebounds, four assists and made 10 of 21
shots despite taking a hard whack on the nose in the second
quarter. He scored 19 points in the first half, outscoring the
other four starters (15) combined, and passed his previous career
high of 26 late in the third quarter. Green also became only the
seventh player not named Iverson to score 30-plus in a game for the
76ers since Iverson joined the team in 1996.
"I felt like I had a big game, but I definitely wanted to
win," Green said. "It's good to go out there and play aggressive
and get confidence, but it's kind of tough when you don't win the
Iverson sat on the bench for the first half but not the
second. ... Washington's Steve Blake, who has missed most of the
season with ankle problems, played four minutes after being
activated from the injured list earlier in the day. Hughes, who
broke his thumb Jan. 15 and isn't expected back until late
February, was placed on the injured list. ... Iguodala had nine
points, six rebounds and six assists before fouling out with 3:42
to play. ... Washington's last eight-game home winning streak was
in December 1997, the month the MCI Center opened. ... The Wizards
are 11-2 this month, clinching their first winning January since
1991. ... Arenas hit a 52-foot buzzer-beater at the end of the