When Steve Buckhantz broke out his first "Dagger!" of the season late in the fourth quarter of yesterday's season-opening win in Dallas, all seemed right in the world for Wizards fans. It's like last year's disaster never happened.
The faces at the edge may have changed, but the man at the center of it all looked the same. Gilbert Arenas is back. The doubts you had about whether his rehab would sap him? Gone.
You could've spliced footage of last night's game into the 2007 season highlight and you wouldn't have blinked.
Agent Zero ripped 29 points and had 9 assists. But it isn't the numbers themselves that were most impressive; it's how he compiled him. He had the same explosiveness he had before his injury, repeatedly blowing by defenders, zipping toward the basket. He made cuts. He jumped. He did it all, as if he never had had such a difficult rehab.
The hopes for dramatic improvements rest on his powerful leg, and for one night, all concerns are gone.
But it wasn't just Gilby leading the charge.
Andray Blatche had 20 and 7 with 2 blocks, impressing Bullets Forever:
"I mean, he was decisive, aggressive, efficient with his dribbles, on the boards, in tune on pick and roll defense and everything. He's had a lot of big statistical games, but I haven't seen him this zeroed in in a long time, maybe ever."
The team itself points to the defense. D-what? They're allowed to play that? The Mavs shot a tick over 39 percent and Dirk was really the only player who had any success for Dallas.
Arenas told reporters after the game, as relayed by Wizards Insider, that they "might as well take credit for the defense. You guys [reporters] have been kicking us in the [butt] saying we don't play it. We did a great job. If we had kept Dirk off the free throw line, we could've blown the game out earlier, but like a superstar, he kept them in until the end."
Defense and a good leg... this could be a good season.