Blatche Responds to Challenge in Wizards' Opener

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008

All eyes will be on fourth-year forward-center Andray Blatche this season, and the multi-skilled big man had a decent start during Wednesday's opening loss to the New Jersey Nets.

Blatche, who has been challenged by Coach Eddie Jordan and veteran teammates to raise his level of effort and performance this season, played 25 minutes of high-energy basketball, did a solid job defensively and finished with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting with six rebounds and one blocked shot.

However, Blatche also took a handful of questionable shots and committed five turnovers. The turnovers particularly bothered him after the game.

"I take some fault because I had five turnovers," said Blatche, who averaged 1.4 turnovers per game last season. "I can't have five turnovers off the bench. Besides that, I blocked out well, I protected the rim and I scored when we needed some buckets, so I felt I had a solid overall game besides the turnovers."

In the fourth quarter, Jordan stuck with Blatche at center over starter Etan Thomas, who had a good debut with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 19 minutes.

Blatche was solid in the final quarter with seven points and four rebounds, and he accounted for the team's only two field goals during the final six minutes. How Jordan utilizes his centers (rookie JaVale McGee played nine minutes in the second half) will be worth watching all season.

"Etan gave a lot of effort, he got some numbers on the stat sheet relative to his time, his minutes," Jordan said. "I just felt that when we made some subs, Andray had some really good moments and maybe that's what we needed to win the game, that sort of playmaking ability and special skill ability."

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