RICHMOND, Va. -- Gilbert Arenas let his playing do the talking.
The anticipated matchup of Arenas and Allen Iverson didn't happen. Iverson, the Hampton, Va., native whose presence helped sell out Virginia Commonwealth University's Verizon Wireless Arena, sat out with a strained left hamstring.
The 34-year-old Iverson, who signed as a free agent with the Grizzlies last month, was injured in a scrimmage on Sunday. He'll have an MRI on Wednesday in Memphis.
"I wouldn't even look at it as being safe or smart," Iverson said. "I can't go. If it was Game 7 in the Finals, I wouldn't be able to go."
Arenas, who has been limited to 15 games over the last two seasons due to three operations on his left knee, assisted on Washington's first seven baskets. In just over 11 minutes in the first quarter, he had five points, hitting one of his two shots, and three of five free throws.
He ended up missing six of nine free throws, blocking a shot, committing three turnovers and stealing the ball twice -- one of them spectacular. Late in the first quarter, Arenas nabbed the ball from Memphis' Marc Gasol and leaped over the scorer's table and landed on his feet.
After the game, Arenas declined comment.
"I don't talk anymore -- next training camp," Arenas said.
Wizards coach Flip Saunders said he planned to play Arenas between eight and 10 minutes, and was leery of resting him and having him to warm up again. But after Arenas spent the first half of the second quarter applying a hot pad and massaging his left knee, he played the final five minutes of the period and the first 7 ½ minutes of the third quarter.
"He was eager," Saunders said. "It started out [that] he didn't know how much he was going to play. He said: 'Why don't you play me like you're going to play me in the regular season?"'
Saunders decided to limit his minutes and watched as Arenas had a brief painful moment late in the first half. With 2:15 remaining, the Grizzlies' Mike Taylor accidentally hit Arenas in the groin and was called for a foul. Arenas winced and missed his two free throws.
"He's given me no indication in the things he's done that he's not back," Saunders said.
Iverson dressed and sat at the end of the bench for the first half. He didn't even join in the team's huddles during timeouts, preferring to watch the oncourt antics instead. Iverson failed to return for the second half.
|Allen Iverson sits on the bench as the Grizzlies take on the Wizards in the preseason opener. (AP)|
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