Trevor Ariza didn't enter the NBA with anything resembling a trusty 3-point touch. That remained the case for much of the wing forward's career. Clearly, over the years he's learned a thing or two about draining 3's. On Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, Ariza showed off his touch in a record-setting kind of way.
Ariza made 10 3-pointers against the Rockets, the most by any player in Washington franchise history, and finished with a season-high 32 points. He sank eight straight in one stretch including all seven attempts during a scorching third quarter and finished 10 of 14 overall in the Wizards.
Though Ariza's shot making spurred on a furious second half rally, it couldn't prevent the heartbreak as Washington fell 113-112 on a final second layup by Houston's James Harden.
The Rockets led 63-54 at halftime and 83-65 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter after a 13-0 run. At this point Ariza already had made four 3's. His fifth came from near the top of the key on a feed from John Wall. More followed as the Wizards roared back and those watching realized this was no ordinary shooting display.
Feeling the hot streak coursing through his lithe body, Ariza went from taking shots in the flow of the offense to looking for opportunities as he crossed half court. To his teammate's credit, they kept looking for him.
Ariza made his final two inside the last two minutes of the third as Washington closed the period on a 25-7 run. The Wizards kept up their push, though Ariza's scoring ended. He missed his three field goal attempts in the fourth, including two from beyond the arc, but grabbed four of his 11 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds.
Various records were broken or milestones met with all those long distance makes:
*Entering Wednesday, Ariza's previous high was seven 3's
*Rex Chapman, Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson all had a piece of the Bullets/Wizards franchise record with eight 3-pointers
*The former Rocket made the most 3-pointers by an opponent against Houston
*And the crowning jewel, Ariza joined Donyell Marshall as the only players in NBA history with at least 10 3's and 10 rebounds in the same game
The career 33.6 percent 3-point shooter came up two shy of the NBA record for 3's in a game. Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall each had 12.
Ariza's reputation is that of a defensive presence, a stopper if you will. Not much of a threat off the dribble, he's found his offensive niche from distance thanks to diligent practice. Anyone who shows early to catch pregame warm-ups can attest to the work put in, especially on those corner 3's. This season, the 28-year-old is a shooting a career-high 38 percent (103 of 269) from beyond the arc.
Now Ariza and the Wizards (25-27) head into the All-Star break. Maybe this performance will eliminate constant internet trade rumors involving Ariza. Then again, maybe the record-breaking effort just intensified the rumor mill.