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Arenas gets rough homecoming in Oakland

3/27/2004

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas expected big things from
himself in his return to Golden State. Instead, the Warriors got a
big win -- and Arenas was left a bit embarrassed.

Erick Dampier had 19 points and 21 rebounds and the Warriors
rolled to their sixth straight victory, beating the Washington
Wizards 99-78 Friday night in Arenas' homecoming to the building
where he was a fan favorite for the last two years.

The Warriors made quick work of Arenas, who was hobbled by a
sprained ankle and hounded by rookie Mickael Pietrus.

From nearly the moment he left Golden State for a $65 million
free-agent contract with Washington eight months ago, Arenas had an
informal checklist in his mind for this game: about 30 shots, 40
points, a bunch of assists and a win.

He went home empty-handed, scoring 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting
while in constant foul trouble. He was booed every time he touched
the ball until the Oakland fans lost interest during the second
half.

"You don't think that it would be that rough," Arenas said.
"It is extra weight on your shoulders, because you do want to
perform well and have your team win. But when it goes bad, it goes
bad. You don't know what to do."

Arenas has been hurt for most of the season, and the Warriors
noticed the difference.

"Gil's just the type of player who goes out there, no matter
how bad he's feeling," Richardson said. "The old Gilbert would
have had about 30 shots up, maybe 40. He just didn't look
healthy."

Jason Richardson had 16 points and nine rebounds for Golden
State, which is on its longest winning streak of the season --
though it follows a nine-game losing streak that probably will keep
the Warriors out of the playoffs for the 10th straight season.
Still, it might save coach Eric Musselman's job -- and the Warriors'
veterans intend to finish strong.

"We're just putting together some great team effort," said
Dampier, who has 40 double-doubles this season. "If we can match
(last season's win total), we'd feel like we did get better at the
end of the season. That's a goal for us."

Golden State (31-40) must finish 7-4 to match last season's
38-44 mark.

Larry Hughes, another former Warriors guard, scored 12 points as
the Wizards quickly regressed to miserable form after snapping
their five-game road losing streak one night earlier.

Washington was handed its 10th loss in 13 games, falling behind
by 17 in the first half and by 24 in the third quarter. Any
motivation from the starting backcourt's return to Oakland wasn't
enough to make the Wizards competitive.

"In this situation, the emotions get carried away and you don't
focus on the task at hand like you need to be effective," coach
Eddie Jordan said. "There is no excuse, but it is a heck of a
thing to deal with. I can see that (Arenas) was affected by it."

Etan Thomas had 16 points and eight rebounds for Washington.

Arenas became a star with the Warriors last season, excelling in
Musselman's uptempo offense. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 assists
and 4.7 rebounds and was named the NBA's most improved player.

But because he was a second-round draft pick, the Warriors were
only able to offer the restricted free agent about half the riches
dangled by Washington. Arenas denounced Warriors owner Chris Cohan
on the way out for his negotiating tactics, though he tempered
those comments before his return game.

Arenas, a fan favorite in Oakland before his defection, didn't
mind his reception.

"They are going to boo you, but if you're doing good, they'll
cheer for you," he said. "I just have to wait until I come back
next year to score my 40."

Game notes
Washington G Steve Blake sat out with a sprained left
thumb. ... Golden State has held all six opponents below 90 points
during its winning streak -- the Warriors' longest such stretch
since the shot clock was added to the game in 1954. ... According
to the Warriors, their winning streak is the longest in NBA history
directly following a losing streak of nine games or longer.