WASHINGTON (AP) -With the new face of the franchise ailing, the Washington Wizards had little choice but to turn to an old friend, and Gilbert Arenas delivered.
Arenas had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists to help the Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 109-94 on Tuesday night.
With rookie sensation John Wall out with a sprained left foot, Arenas started for the first time since his suspension for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room.
With a small and quiet crowd of 11,513 looking on, Arenas scored 10 points in the third quarter, when Washington outscored Toronto 36-21 to take a 90-68 lead.
After the game, he played the humble Gil, happy to be here, eager to help out the No. 1 draft choice.
``It's been almost four years since I've really played the game. Just going out there playing means a lot to me - whether it's starting or coming off the bench,' Arenas said.
Since March 2007, there have been a host of injuries, real and imagined, knee surgeries and the infamous gun incident, which resulted in a season-ending suspension.
Starting for the first time at home since Jan. 2, the fans applauded warmly when he was introduced and no boos were heard. He thought he'd get the same sort of reception that a one-time top Wizards draft pick turned bust regularly received.
``It surprised me, especially when I had a rough summer. All the stuff I'm reading, I thought the fans were just going to murder me - 'cause I was here with Kwame Brown,' Arenas said.
``I was expecting the same thing. They tricked me a little bit.'
Washington coach Flip Saunders thinks he's seeing glimpses of the old Arenas, who scored 30 points in Chicago after Wall was hurt last Saturday.
``He's starting to get his legs under him,' Saunders said. ``He puts so much pressure on the other team knowing that they have to guard him.'
Wall, who entered the locker room about an hour before gametime on crutches, traveled with the Wizards to Boston for their game on Wednesday night. Saunders said he hoped the No. 1 pick would play.
Arenas had some help from Andray Blatche, who had 22. Nick Young scored 20, and Kirk Hinrich added 13 points and 12 assists for Washington, which won for just the third time in nine games.
Toronto, which lost for the ninth time in 11 games, was led by Sonny Weems' 16 points.
``It was surprising to me having our team come out so flat,' Raptors coach Jay Triano said.
Wall, who had a triple-double in his sixth game, leads the Wizards with 18.1 points and 9.8 assists per game. Arenas said he just wants to fit in alongside him.
``You know, you just got to perform, be a great teammate. People are forgiving. I made a mistake. I want to move on,' Arenas said.
NOTES: Washington outrebounded Toronto 47-36. ``We kicked their butts on the boards,' Saunders said. ... Hinrich scored his 7,000th point. ... Raptors G Leandro Barbosa missed his fourth straight game with a strained left shoulder. Triano said he hopes Barbosa will be ready to play Friday. ... Raptors F Linas Kleiza returned after missing two games with tendinitis in his right Achilles'. ... Wizards C Yi Jianlian missed the game with a bruised right knee. ... Washington C JaVale McGee blocked the 200th shot of his career. ... Wizards rookie F Kevin Seraphin made his NBA debut, scoring two points in two minutes. ... Jaime Moreno, who retired last month after a long career with DC United of the MLS, was saluted on the scoreboard.
The Associated Press News Service
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