Arenas and Everything After
By Dave McMenamin

NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2007-- Yup, he did it again.

Gilbert Arenas did the Jazz on Monday like he did the Bucks on Jan. 3 -- another game-winning three as time expired.

Forget Agent Zero, a more appropriate moniker for Arenas is Zero Doubt.

As in there's zero doubt in my mind that in the waning seconds of a close game Arenas will come through with a big shot.

The dagger against Utah made Arenas 11-for-11 this season on shots to end a quarter, half or game.

He has Jack Bauer's confidence, the range of Celine Dion's voice and the ipseity of Robin Williams.

Scoring 30 points in a 21-point win against Southeast Division rival Magic in Orlando on Friday was just another stop on the greatest hits tour that Arenas has turned his season into.

And now, these are the 10 things I learned from last week ...

1. Barbosa and the Suns

Phoenix is riding a 12-game winning streak including a 10-0 mark in January.

When did they go from a good team to a great team? It was like the tranformation from Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap to Lohan in Mean Girls -- it seemed to happen overnight.

The secret to their success has been Leandro Barbosa.

Barbosa has scored in double-digits every game this month including four outings of 20 points or more and a game winner against the Bulls to start it all off on Jan. 2.

Barbosa's development has allowed Mike D'Antoni to rest Steve Nash when he can tell Nash needs a spell without having the Suns miss a beat.

The only post-season trophy that's a lock in my book is Barbosa taking home the Sixth Man Award.

2. Trades, signings, etc.: Part 1

Chris Webber chose the move that made the most sense and went home to Detroit.

It's a good fit for Webber as he'll:

1. Have a great point guard in Chauncey Billups to feed him when he lines up in his patented "mid-post" position (not quite the foul line, not quite the block...)
2. Be a central cog in facilitating the Pistons' offense by using his versatile passing skills to play the high-low game with Rasheed Wallace one possession, and drop a pass behind his head to find a cutting Rip Hamilton the next
3. Get a chance to make his first appearance at The Finals stage and put it all on the line for that coveted ring at last.

My only problem with the whole thing is his jersey number. I understand Webber couldn't have No. 4 because his boss (Joe Dumars) already has it retired in his honor, but No. 84? Seriously, Chris?

I don't care if a family member saw you wearing that number in a dream. It's a jersey, not a sideshow act. Now you'll be coupled with the likes of No. 76 Shawn Bradley, No. 77 Gheorge Muresan, No. 91 Dennis Rodman and No. 93 Ron Artest.

Not the most distinguished of company for you there, C-Webb.

3. Got to have five

When the Lakers and Spurs started the fourth quarter on Wednesday, San Antonio only had four men out on the floor.

Phil Jackson slowly rose from his cushioned seat on the bench to stop play from continuing as if a hoard of tiny elves had ropes attached to his chest and were frantically pulling the Zen Master up.

Bruce Bowen apparently missed the memo that he was supposed to be out there.

In my mind, playing four on five is clearly a disadvantage to the Spurs. But, instead of just being punished for their error by playing undermanned until the first dead ball, there was a technical foul issued and L.A. got a free throw and the ball, after which Bowen was allowed to enter the game.

I e-mailed Ronnie Nunn, the NBA's Director of Officials, for an explanation of the ruling. Read his response:

Dave, hope all is well.

Here is the answer to your question:

The NBA games must always have 5 players playing against 5 opponent players. We have rules that govern that principle even where foul outs have occurred. This is not seen much outside of the NBA where playing 5 against 4 could exist, but, again, not in the NBA.

It is the responsibility of each team to have 5 players on the floor during live play and that's the reason for the technical foul regardless of who appears to have an advantage of one less player or one more player.

I hope this helps.

RN

So unlike Hoosiers when Norman Dale plays only four players on purpose and famously says to the confused referee, "My team is on the floor," you need five-on-five in the Association.

4. Singing praise for Carroll

Steveo in Charlotte wrote, "Am I the only one noticing the Bobcats' Matt Caroll?"

No, Steveo, you're not the only one. First of all, my editor, Rob Peterson, of Central Intelligence fame can't shut up about how Carroll is performing for his fantasy team.

Second of all, Carroll is a Philadelphia-area native and played in the Big East at Notre Dame so I got a good look at him in high school and when he faced my Syracuse Orange when I was in college.

Third of all, you can't help but have your attention drawn to his numbers as the 6-6 guard has scored in double figures the last 10 games while shooting 31-for-62 on 3-pointers (50 percent) and 44-for-50 on free throws (88 percent).

And now my question to you, Steveo: Did it hurt stapling your crotch in Jackass?

5. What's up with AK-47?

He is known as a defensive stopper, a stat-sheet stuffer, a 5x5 guy (five-plus in five different statistical categories in a game), but this season it just doesn't seem to be there.

Andrei Kirilenko is averaging a career-low 9.0 points per game and his 5.2 rebounds a night are his lowest total since his rookie season average of 4.9.

Not to mention his blocks, assists, field goal percentage and free throw percentages are all down from last season.

After starting off the season 11-1, Utah has gone a pedestrian 15-13 since then.

Kirilenko is one of those X-Factor players that can end up dominating a contest without scoring, but more games like he had on Monday against the Wizards (four points, three rebounds in 30 minutes) and his days in Utah could be limited.

6. LBJ's streak ends

The Cavaliers were 9-0 all-time when LeBron James notched a triple-double in the regular season. That came to an end on Friday.

Bron Bron dropped 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists vs. the Nuggets on Friday but his hopes for a 10-0 triple-dip record took one on the chin as Allen Iverson's 25 points and nine assist lifted Denver to a 110-99 win.

A.I. could sympathize with James' streak coming to an end I'm sure. Iverson had a far more dubious streak at the beginning of his career -- the Sixers were 0-7 in his first seven 40-point games. Iverson finally broke through with 41 points in a 105-90 win against the Lakers on March 19, 1999.

7. What's up with Mo Pete?

Also appearing in the M.I.A. files is Toronto's Morris Peterson.

The 6-7 swingman who first made his mark on the league as a high flyer and transitioned into a reliable outside shooter (much the same as Dan Majerle's, Rex Chapman's, Ron Harper's and now J.R. Smith's career arch) seems to be the odd-man out for the Raptors.

Mo Pete's numbers have diminished as his minutes have been doled out to GM Bryan Colangelo's new crew of international players suiting up for the dinosaurs.

You have to applaud Peterson for staying professional as Toronto keeps tweaking its roster looking for the most potent combination out there. Not too many seven-year veterans who spent their whole careers with the same franchise would be as patient.

8. Trades, signings, etc.: Part 2

Big, eight-player trades are always fun to talk about and dissect. Who got the better deal? How will the players fit into their new systems? How will the teams respond to the moves?

Indiana traded Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell to Golden State for Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod on Jan. 17.

To answer my own questions: I think the Warriors got the better deal right now, but Diogu could be a beast down the line; Jackson and Harrington should mesh well with Nellie's run-and-gun system; and the move should make Jermaine O'Neal happy as he has welcomes complementary players that will look for him as the undisputed No. 1 option on that team.

9. Hotzones

I know there are a ton of you out there that claim to really know your favorite player. You know the name of his high school, what his major was in college, his favorite TV show, his jersey number, his career stats and accolades. That's all well and good. But do you really know him as a player?

This might sound somewhat infomerical-ish, but here at NBA.com, you can gain pertinent insight into the shooting tendencies of every player in the league. The tool is called Hotzones. You can find it on the NBA.com homepage by rolling over STATS in the top navigation menu and click on NBA Hotzones.

Check out Steve Nash's shooting spots.

Red is good. Gray is OK. Blue is bad.

Nash has no blue.

Now check out Jazz rookie Dee Brown's Hotzone.

Brown's is so blue it looks like the Cookie Monster.

Play around with it and learn more about your favorite guys. You know I'll be pointing to how well my man Kobe is at pull-up jumpers and floaters in the lane.

10. McTen mailbag

Finally, to tie up some loose ends I'll go to the mailbag to answer a few queries.

Ricky James wrote in, "What does "ish" mean?"

Ricky, "ish" short for "issue." So when I wrote last week, "A lot of Lakers fans read my ish because I am a full-fledged, all-out-there Kobe supporter," you could interchange "ish" with "articles" and get the same idea. Maybe I shouldn't use slang. I'm not hip.

Nick in Dayton wrote, "Did you forget about the Pacers 'THE' playoff guaranteed, 12 soon to be 13 straight appearences tied with NBA champion Spurs. You never forget about the Pacers or the up-coming Danny Granger you can and will get them their first ring."

Nick, Granger and his 12.4 and 4.9 rebound averages may spell playoffs for Indiana, but a ring seems a ways off unless you're talking about one of the precious gem rings that come in a plastic bubble that they sell for a quarter in the machines in the front of K-Mart.

Daniel in Denver asks, "What about the Boykins for Blake trade. I thought it was McTen Material."

Danny, you're right, but I think Central Intelligence covered it pretty well.

Until next week...

Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Get at me.