Dave Johnson: Blatche Plays But Wizards Lose

Dave Johnson: Blatche Plays But Wizards Lose
March 25, 2010, 1:46 am
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:43pm

Wizards vs. Pacers Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.com Indianapolis---It was all quiet on the Washington Wizards front. Too quiet. There was no controversy, but not much basketball, either, as the Wizards stumbled to their franchise record-tying 13th consecutive defeat in a 99-82 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Andray Blatche was still in the Wizards starting lineup and led the team with 21 points. In Tuesdays loss to the Bobcats, Blatche was benched in the first quarter by Wizards head coach Flip Saunders because of a disagreement. Saunders had hinted Blatche might not play because of the dispute.

While Blatche had his usual post All-Star break points, the Wizards offense struggled to get anything going. The Wizards shot only 36 percent from the field, including several missed layups, and as a team only had 11 assists. Blatche may be a future All-Star but the Pacers have a current All-Star in Danny Granger and he made the difference. Granger had a game-high 31 points including 11 points in the fourth quarter when the Wizards were desperately trying to make a run. Down by 16 points at 74-58 to startthe fourth quarter, the Wizards came to life and used their defense to try and jump-start their lifeless offense. The Wizards sudden aggressiveness allowed them to pull within 10 points at 81-71 on a Blatche three-pointer with 6:11 to go. Granger then wasted no time in putting the Pacers back in control with a slam dunk and a three-pointer, sandwiched around a Wizards miss, to extend their lead back to 15 points at 86-71. It was Granger who also gave the Pacers their biggest lead of the night. In the third quarter Granger blocked an Earl Boykins drive to the basket and then hit a shot beyond the arc at the other end of the court to put the Pacers up 70-50 Offensively we are struggling to get into sets, Saunders said. The only bright spot we had tonight was James (Singleton). He was unbelievable. We played him a lot of minutes and he had good game last night and played well so we will have to look to make some lineup changes in our next game. It is possible Singleton could start in place of JaVale McGee on Friday in Charlotte. Singletons approach has been direct and consistent. Against the Pacers, in a game in need of a spark, Singleton stormed off the bench and scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. We have been in a situation where we are trying to evaluate players, Saunders noted. At some point you have to still evaluate but you also have to reward the guys that are producing in a limited time and give them extended minutes. In short if Singleton cracks the starting five, it will be a credit to him and not a knock on JaVale McGee. Since the All-Star break McGee has played his best basketball, and played well Tuesday against the Bobcats, but with more minutes than he has ever played in his career he has been inconsistent.. The Pacers have now won five of six games and are more than just Granger. Six players scored in double figures against the Wizards including Josh McRoberts who had 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. McRoberts started in place of Roy Hibbert who suffered a jaw injury against the Pistons. The Wizards at 21-49 have a similar record to the Pacers 26-46 mark, but are at the other end of the spectrum right now. The Wizards 13 game losing streak equals the franchise record set back in 1995. We have been competitive in some games, Saunders said. We were not as competitive tonight. We have not had overall consistent play. We are trying to rely on just a few guys to carry us. We are young and not as talented as the teams we are playing against. Blatche has been one of the guys carrying the Wizards that Saunders referred to. Before the Pacers game Saunders seemed ready to move forward after benching Blatche for most of the overtime loss to the Bobcats. Still Saunders does not regret his decision not to play Blatche after the two had an argument on the bench. Saunders was angered when Blatche did not accept coaching during a timeout.When you decide to blow up a team, it is about setting groundwork for where you want to be, Saunders explained. Everyone has to know there are certain things you can do and certain things you cant do. As coaches and everyone you have core values of what you believe in and you have to stick to them.