Washington starting forward Andray Blatche was among the most distraught players in the locker room following a 90-84 loss to New Jersey, and it wasn’t only because the Wizards wasted a 21-point lead in their season opener at Verizon Center.
Blatche finished with 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting, taking mostly jumpers. That didn’t sit well with the team captain who addressed the announced crowd of 17,102 before tip-off.
A reporter asked Blatche to address Coach Flip Saunders’ comments that players were relying too much on individual production once the Wizards went comfortably ahead early in the second quarter, 37-17.
“He probably was talking about me for the simple fact that I said I need the ball in the paint to be effective,” Blatche said. “You can’t keep having me pick and pop and shooting jumpshots. Gimme the ball in the paint. That’s where I’m most effiective at. I’ve been saying that since training camp. I need the ball in the paint. I don’t wand to be the pick-and-pop guy I used to be because it’s not working for me.”
Not much was working for the Wizards once they appeared well on their way to starting the season with a win. After recording five assists in the first quarter, Washington had six the rest of the game. It was outworked underneath to boot, losing in rebounding margin, 58-38, including 18-9 offensively.
The Wizards also missed 13 of 34 free throws, with John Wall going 7 for 13 and JaVale McGee shooting 1 for 6.
“I’m not saying the offense has to run through me, but I prefer to be in the paint,” said Blatche, who later went to Twitter to express his frustration.
“I may have had a bad game but that’s cause I need the ball in the post not taking jump shots all game,” Blatche posted on his Twitter page.
Wall, meantime, talked about the Wizards’ failure to close out games, a recurring issue last season, when the team won 23 games. Wall had the ball in his hands down the stretch, but in the closing seconds, he turned it over to secure the win for the Nets.
Wall also addressed Saunders’ comments about selfish play, but he appeared caught a bit off guard when asked about Blatche’s requests for the ball inside.
“I don’t know,” Wall said with a shrug. “In practice he gets the ball on pick and pops, and in practice he gets the ball on the blocks. It’s whatever the play is called, that’s where the ball has to go, and it’s my job to get everybody in position and get the ball where it’s supposed to be.”