As if the injury situation couldn’t get any worse for the Washington Wizards, their 95-76 loss to Milwaukee tonight included second-leading scorer Andray Blatche leaving early in the first quarter with a sprained right shoulder.
The injury happened with 8 minutes 46 seconds to play after Blatche became trapped between a double-team of forward Luc Mbah a Moute and guard Brandon Jennings. Trying to gather the loose ball, Blatche landed with a thud on his right side and stayed down on Washington’s offensive end as play went the other direction.
Wizards Coach Flip Saunders shortly thereafter called a 20-second timeout, at which time trainers attended to Blatche on the court. Blatche eventually rose to his feet and walked back to the locker room with his hand on his shoulder. He did not come back, and Saunders said afterward he would have an MRI tomorrow morning.
Blatche’s injury could not have come at a worse juncture for the Wizards, who were without three players going into the game. Rashard Lewis was out with knee tendintis, and Josh Howard missed the game with a sore hamstring. Both have started at small forward this season.
Also out was guard-forward Cartier Martin, which left Washington at a considerable deficit at the No. 3 slot. Maurice Evans started there, but rookie Trevor Booker, normally a power forward, had to play at the position coming off the bench.
“It’s tough having a lot of people out,” rookie point guard John Wall said. “We didn’t really have a true small forward, and Mo did a great job doing as much as he can without knowing all the plays. It was tough to lose Dray. That gave other people an opportunity to step up, and tonight, they didn’t step up in that position, and nobody else stepped up in the other positions.”
Evans finished with 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting, but Booker managed eight points in just over 31 and a half minutes. The bench contributed 36 points, but remove Jordan Crawford’s game-high 22 points, and the reserves were barely noticeable.
It’s unclear when Howard and Lewis will be back in the lineup. Howard has missed the past two games, and Lewis sat out Sunday’s 113-102 loss at Detroit. Even before that game, however, Lewis had been dealing with knee discomfort. He played five minutes against Golden State on Wednesday and just under 10 minutes against Chicago on Feb. 28.
“There’s no question, especially when you have four guys that have been here all year long that are not playing, that does hurt you a little bit,” Saunders said.