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Arenas does not back up talk against Trail Blazers

Feb 11, 2007 - 11:47 PM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas was looking for some personal payback against the Portland Trail Blazers. He didn't get it.

Arenas and the Washington Wizards were inept from the field while rookie LaMarcus Aldridge and Juan Dixon were strong off the bench to lead the Trail Blazers to a 94-73 victory.

Arenas had vowed to go for 50 points against Portland as part of payback to anyone the All-Star guard believes was responsible for his exclusion from Team USA last summer. Portland coach Nate McMillan served as an assistant for that team.

Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni also was an assistant for the national team, and Arenas exacted a measure of revenge December 23 when he scored 54 points in a 144-139 overtime victory that snapped the Suns' 15-game winning streak.

Things did not go nearly as well for Arenas against the Trail Blazers, who remained the only team he has not scored 30 points against in his career.

Despite his off night and lack of offense, Arenas was more worried about the Wizards losing their identity.

"We get taken out for any mistake we make on defense and truly, at the end of the day, it's hard to play like that," Arenas said. "Players are going to make great plays, but if you get penalized for it, you're out there playing like robots."

Arenas scored nine points on 3-of-15 from the field, missing all eight of his 3-pointers. He did not score his first basket until 7:32 remained in the second quarter, finally hitting a jumper that pulled Washington within 30-16.

"I think the main thing is trying to keep (Arenas) in front of you," McMillan said. "He's an unbelievable player with a lot of talent. For the most part, you play him straight up and make him shoot over the top. If he's knocking down those shots, then you have to live with that."

Arenas was not making any shots early on, and Portland already had established control before he even got on the scoreboard thanks to Aldridge and Dixon. The Trail Blazers went on a 10-0 run to close the first quarter and take a 21-12 lead.

"In the first period of the game we had what, 11 players go in? I've never seen that before," Arenas said. "This is the NBA. Players are going to beat you. We are who we are. We're a high-scoring team, a running team; that's what we do. We have to focus on what got us here, that's all I'm saying."

Aldridge scored the first six points of the spurt and Dixon the last four as the Wizards were held scoreless over the final 6:25 of the period.

All-Star Caron Butler's dunk made it 48-40 with 6:51 left in the third quarter, but that was as close at the Wizards would get in the second half. Aldridge scored on a follow shot at the buzzer to push the cushion to 63-49.

"As a player, I felt very embarrassed about our effort," Butler said.

Aldridge and Jarrett Jack each scored 18 points and Dixon added 14 and four steals for the Blazers (22-30), who surpassed last season's win total.

"LaMarcus probably played his best game tonight offensively and defensively," McMillan said.

"My shots were falling from the beginning, and I just kept playing hard," Aldridge said. "Like coach always says, it starts on the defensive end. I came out and took a charge and got a couple blocks, and it just got me in the rhythm of the game."

DeShawn Stevenson scored 12 points and Butler had 10 for the Wizards, who shot just 38 percent (27-of-71).

"That was not one of our best-played games. In fact, we played poorly," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "I'd like to give credit to Nate McMillan. He has done a great job with the Trail Blazers. To execute and play defense like they did on the road is pretty darn good."

While Arenas and the Wizards had trouble finding their range from the field, Aldridge and Dixon did not. The 18 points were a season-high for Aldridge, who was 9-of-13 from the field and added 10 rebounds while Dixon was 7-of-11 from the floor.

"We're growing up and I think that we're learning how to play with each other," Aldridge said. "One of the things that coach said is that we played together for all 48 minutes. He said it showed and we're getting better as a unit."

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