Washington Wizards beat New Jersey Nets, 109-99
Monday, April 5, 2010
Andray Blatche threw his arms up, rolled his eyes and helplessly looked toward the roof. He was flustered over yet another missed opportunity in a season filled with them.
As the closing seconds wound down on the Washington Wizards' game against the lowly New Jersey Nets on Sunday, newcomer Cartier Martin saw Blatche wandering and whirling around, so he ran up to him and gave him a hug to console him.
No, the Wizards hadn't lost to the team with the worst record in the NBA. They finally snapped a franchise-record nine-game home losing streak and actually topped triple digits in scoring for the first time in 20 games. So, there was much to be excited about in the Wizards' 109-99 victory before a season-low 10,112 at Verizon Center.
But after scoring 20 points with a career-high 13 assists, Blatche was frantically in pursuit of his first career triple-double in the final minute. He came one rebound short, with his best opportunity for his 10th rebound lost in a tussle with Martin.
"I wanted it so bad," said Blatche. "But it happens. I'm not tripping."
And Blatche really couldn't be too upset after the Wizards (23-53) swept the season series against the Nets for the first time since the 1987-88 season. They had six different players reach double figures, with Mike Miller overcoming a sore left shoulder and busted lip to score 17 points and grab a team-high 13 rebounds. Martin, Nick Young and Shaun Livingston added 16 points each, and JaVale McGee finishing with 14.
The Wizards won at home for the first time since Feb. 22 and scored at least 100 points for the first time since Feb. 26. "I think our guys have played really hard this last month and we've had opportunities -- whether it was at Boston, whether it was at Portland or whether it was the two games with Charlotte," Coach Flip Saunders said. "We've had a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter and just didn't come up with anything. You like to see them have some success to reinforce the things that they have been doing. A lot in this league is who you play."
Since the Wizards defeated them on Feb. 28, the Nets (11-66) have had a superior record. They had gone 5-12 and arrived in Washington having won four of their past six games, including a 115-87 win the night before against New Orleans. The Wizards had just one victory over that span -- over the same Hornets.
In their last meeting with New Jersey, Blatche had the best game of his career as he destroyed the Nets' front line tandem of Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez and scored a career-high 36 points with 15 rebounds. Sunday night, the Nets were focused on making sure that he wouldn't have a repeat performance.
But with the Nets' defense collapsing on him, Blatche was a delightful dishing decoy, used the opportunity to showcase his passing ability as he spotted open teammates. Blatche found Fabricio Oberto underneath the basket for a layup, then he kicked the ball out to Miller for an open three-pointer to give the Wizards a 5-0 lead.
Blatche set a new career high with eight assists in the first quarter, assisting on the Wizards' final six baskets in the period. He set up Miller for another layup, McGee and Livingston for dunks, Martin for a three-pointer, then Oberto and Martin for layups as the Wizards built a 27-16 lead.
"Dray set the tone for team play early," Saunders said after the Wizards dished out 28 assists, the most since having 34 against New York more than a month ago.