WASHINGTON (NBA.com exclusive) -- Perhaps the biggest question concerning the Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas coming into this season was how his thrice surgically repaired left knee would handle the rigors of back-to-back games.
For now, it appears they have their answer.
Twenty four hours after his team fell to the Atlanta Hawks, Arenas put on full display the myriad skills that have made him a three-time all star in the Wizards' 123-104 victory over the New Jersey Nets in Washington's home opener.
Arenas, who last played in back-to-back regular season games back on April 11 and 12 of 2008, led the Wizards with a game-high 32 points, marking the first time he has eclipsed 30 points in a game since Nov. 14, 2007.
Second-year New Jersey guard Chris Douglas-Roberts led the Nets with a career-high 25 points. This marked the first time he has seen Arenas playing at or near what is considered to be peak form.
Consider him impressed.
"From what I've heard from people around the league he is better now than he was before the injury," said Roberts, who was 7-of-12 from the field. "He creates so many problems. When he comes down and the ball is in his hands you don't even know what set you need to be in because you don't know what he'll do. You don't know if he is going to take you off the dribble, pass the ball or go to the basket. He is a nightmare to defend."
Arenas did not channel Freddy Krueger by himself; he got plenty of help.
The Wizards connected on 61.5% of their field goals compared to 46.3 for the winless Nets. Washington was even better from long range, making 9-of-14 from behind the 3-point line. Arenas led five Wizards in double figures. He was followed in scoring honors by emerging forward Andray Blatche. Blatche was one of five Wizards to score in double figures, finishing with a career-high 30 points.
"He's been playing fabulous since [Antawn Jamison] went down," Arenas said. "He's been waiting for this for four years now. He finally decided this year was the year. He's been working and it's showing."
The Wizards learned before the game that they would be without the services of starting forward Caron Butler. Butler bruised his knee the night before in Atlanta while diving for a loose ball. He joined injured starter Antawn Jamison on the Wizards bench also.
New Jersey was also without its best player. Point guard Devin Harris missed the game with a right groin injury. Harris, who last season averaged almost 21 points per game and connected on better than 50 percent of his field goal attempts against Washington, is expected to miss at least a week with the injury. According to the Nets, Harris will see a specialist perhaps as soon as Monday to have the injury evaluated.
"He's an all star player," Nets guard Courtney Lee said when asked about Harris' absence. "He scores and he plays defense and is the key to our break. With or without him we still have five guys out there that are supposed to go out there and compete and get the job done. We are professionals, so we need to be out there getting the job done."
"I'm thinking at least a week, maybe longer," Harris said when asked about the injury.
The game marked the home debut for Wizards coach Flip Saunders. Saunders wasn't the only new face on the floor. In fact, of the 10 players that started the game, only New Jersey center Brook Lopez was in the starting lineup when the teams faced each other last February.
Washington took control of the game in the middle quarters when it outscored New Jersey 71-55.
With the game comfortably in hand -- Washington led by 20 at the end of the third -- the Wizards were able to rest Arenas for the entire fourth period.