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Wizards' Andray Blatche battles through shooting slump

Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 1:21 AM

Blatche battling shooting slump

After another poor shooting night in the Washington Wizards' 92-81 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday, forward Andray Blatche said he's trying to mentally break out of a recent offensive slump.

From Oct. 30 to Dec. 20, a span of 21 games not counting those missed because of injury or suspension, Blatche failed to reach at least 10 points just once - he had four points on Nov. 13 in a 103-96 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Three times in his last five games, however, Blatche's production has dipped.

The fifth-year forward, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, shot just 4 for 12 from the field and had eight points against the Hornets, one night after going 4 for 16 with eight points in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. Blatche also had seven points on 3-of-14 shooting against Chicago on Dec. 22.

"I find myself in a bad groove, and catch myself start thinking," Blatche said. "I start thinking about my misses and my mistakes, and it's just like a bear getting on my back, and the more I think about it, the more I mess up. I'm just going to come out, try to keep my mind clear and just play."

Instead of analyzing Blatche's offensive effectiveness, Wizards Coach Flip Saunders praised Blatche's effort defensively in recent games and said the lack of balance in productivity on both ends of the floor could be attributed to a lack of conditioning because Blatche is still "playing catch-up" from last year's broken foot.

Blatche had surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in June and did not return until training camp, and he has also had knee issues.

Blatche's name has come up in trade rumors, including a recent report that the Cleveland Cavaliers have interest in him. He acknowledged on Monday that hearing such rumors has had an effect on him. "That bothers me some," Blatche said. "But that's the name of the game. I just gotta keep trucking along with it."

Hinrich, Yi return

Guard Kirk Hinrich (thigh) and forward Yi Jianlian (knee) returned to practice, and the two said they felt encouraged by their continued progress returning from injury.

Hinrich also sported a pair of athletic glasses that he said were for protective purposes, not corrective. Hinrich said he had an eye exam and was told he should wear the glasses, adding that they had nothing to do with the black eye he picked up against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 22. "Today was the first day with them," Hinrich said. "Definitely not used to them yet, just trying to get adjusted to wearing them."

The only player not on the practice floor was Josh Howard, who Saunders said was held out because of soreness.

- Paul Tenorio

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