Arenas held to just nine points in Wizards' loss

WASHINGTON -- Gilbert Arenas vowed to score 50 points against Portland.

"Thats like a dude saying he's going to punch you in your face."
-- Blazers' Jarrett Jack on Gilbert Arenas' 50-point prediction

He wasn't even close as the Washington Wizards fell to the Trail Blazers 94-73 on Sunday.

Arenas had made the promise in retaliation for Portland coach Nate McMillan's involvement with Arenas being left off the U.S. national team last summer. The guard, who is averaging 29.4 points, shot 3-for-15 from the field, including 0-for-8 on 3-pointers. He finished with nine points.

"Thats like a dude saying he's going to punch you in your face," said Jarrett Jack, who guarded Arenas for most of the game. "With a guy like him, Kobe or LeBron, the easy way to guard him is don't let him get the ball back when he passes it. We did a good job of trying to deny him when he was one pass away, and my big guys did a great job of helping me whenever he got by me."

Jack and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points each to lead Portland.

The Trail Blazers are the only team that Arenas has not scored 30 points against during his six-year NBA career.

"We have a new philosphy now and that is focusing on defense," said Arenas, who spent most of the game guarding Jack, who shot 5-for-8 from the field with five assists. "Right now we are still adjusting to that. At the end of the day, they scored a lot of easy baskets on us."

Reserve guard Juan Dixon had 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting with four steals and three assists in 27 minutes for Portland, which has won two straight.

"Dixon basically helped with the scouting report last night and really helped out on the floor with giving us the calls and knowing what to take away," McMillan said of the former Wizards player. "But we did have some other guys -- Jarrett played a really nice game and LaMarcus probably played his best game offensively and defensively."

With their 22nd victory, the Blazers eclipsed their win total of last season.

"Other than the [20] turnovers, they probably executed the game plan better than we've seen them this season," McMillan said.

DeShawn Stevenson had 12 points and Caron Butler added 10 for the Wizards.

"You can't put your finger on it," Butler said. "Portland played good basketball, that's it. They played great basketball on both ends of the floor. As a player, I was embarrassed about our effort."

Washington lost its second straight and fourth in five games since forward Antawn Jamison went down with a sprained left knee on Jan. 30.

Arenas averaged 28.5 points in two starts against Portland last season.

"When you tell a team: 'Hey, we don't have Antawn anymore. We can't outscore people. You've proven that we can't outscore people anymore. We have to go out there and stop people,' for a scoring team, it kind of takes that air out of you," Arenas said of what the Wizards have been hearing lately from coach Eddie Jordan. "We're who we are. We're a high-scoring team. We're a running team. That's what we do. We're a high-scoring caliber team."

Not on this day, when the Wizards scored a season-low 73 points, seven less than their previous low.

"That's just plain stupid," Jordan said of Arenas' comments about playing defense. "The whole idea of us having to have to play defense better, is that a problem or is that a question? That's ludicrous.

"We haven't found the answer for missing Antawn," said Jordan, who's waiting for some one to step up and fill the leadership void created by their injured captain. "We're searching. ... Leadership is a big thing for a team. We don't have leadership and we don't have guys who can make plays like Antawn makes plays. ... Frankly, we didn't have enough talent on the floor."

Game notes
The Wizards activated F Michael Ruffin, who missed the past 37 games with a sprained right foot. He played 22 minutes and grabbed five rebounds but did not score. ... C Etan Thomas served the first of a Wizards' two-game suspension for throwing a punch at teammate Brendan Haywood during Friday's practice. "We could've used Etan," Jordan said. ... The crowd of 20,173 at Verizon Center was the Wizards' 14th sellout of the season, matching their total of last season. They booed the home team off the court following the game.