Laid-back Ariza showing his 'tremendous will'

Laid-back Ariza showing his 'tremendous will'
April 25, 2014, 3:30 pm
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Stereotype or not, Californians are known for their laid-back ways. Off the court, Wizards forward and Los Angeles native Trevor Ariza epitomizes "chill." On the court, the 6-foot-8 small forward is a lockdown defender and perimeter threat.

Perhaps Ariza's relaxed ways work against the 10-year veteran in terms of national attention even though he won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls are certainly taking notice. In Washington's Game 1 victory, Ariza scored 18 points with three 3-pointers.

In Tuesday's rematch, he filled up the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Perhaps more importantly, the lengthy defender shutdown Bulls guard D.J. Augustin, who was on the verge of leading Chicago to a Game 2 victory. Instead the Wizards rallied late, forced overtime and won 101-99 for a 2-0 series lead.

"The thing you can't overlook is what Ariza does for them," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said following the Bulls morning shootaround at the Verizon Center on Friday. "Ariza is a championship level player. He's got great experience. He got [seven] assists in the last game. He's very efficient. Guards everyone. ...You look at every winning team. They all have a guy like that. He embraces his role."

That role includes taking - and making - many of those coveted corner 3-pointers on passes from John Wall. Ariza finished the regular season sinking 180 3-pointers and shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc -- both career-best numbers -- while averaging 14.4 and 6.2 rebounds. He's 5 of 11 in two games against the Bulls.

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Just don't forget about his defense or all the other parts of his game.

"Trevor does a great job of playing defense, hitting the corner 3's and doing all the little things for our team," John Wall said on Friday. "Late in [Game 2], in the last three or four minutes he guarded D.J. Augustin and basically took them of the game. That's something we needed because he was hurting us throughout the whole game."

Thibodeau, known as a defensive tactician, said of Ariza, "He's got great length, great feet. He's a heck of a competitor. The thing is he came into the league as more of a defensive, high-energy type guy. He's made himself into a terrific all-around player. ... He probably doesn't get the credit that he deserves, but he's a heck of a player."

As for his laid-back manner, Ariza cops to that truth, but also makes it clear he can turn the switch when needed.

"I feel like I am an aggressive person," said Ariza, doing so with a warm smile. "My demeanor is of a laid-back demeanor. But when it comes to basketball or when I get tested and such, I feel like I'm an aggressive person.

"I think like playing defense is all about will and I feel like I have a tremendous will."