Trevor Booker received some disappointing news when he arrived at practice on Tuesday and realized that a left-handed jump hook that he was credited with making during the Wizards’ 102-99 victory last Saturday over Charlotte actually belonged to Kevin Seraphin. The NBA corrected the mistake, so, instead of scoring 16 points on 6 for 6 shooting, he actually had 14 points on 5 for 5 shooting.
“I took his two points, now they gave it back. I didn’t want to give it back, but they took it back,” Booker said, jokingly.
Booker may have lost two points, but he has gained an opportunity to score a few more now that forward Andray Blatche is expected to miss the next three to five weeks with a strained left calf muscle.
Blatche, the Wizards’ fourth-leading scorer, was injured shortly after entering Saturday’s game in Charlotte and Booker quickly took advantage, scoring 16 – um, 14 – points in just 19 minutes while helping the Wizards (4-17) get their first road win of the season. Booker scored 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting, and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, in the Wizards’ 98-88 loss on Monday to Chicago.
“Unfortunately, Dray got hurt in the Charlotte game,” Booker said. “Somebody got to step up and I just tried to go in and fill his role as best as I could and take the shots that was coming to me and keep playing hard on defense.”
Booker has had an odd second season in Washington. He missed part of training camp, still recovering from a bruised left thigh injury suffered while playing in Israel during the lockout. He then got patchy minutes before replacing Blatche in the starting lineup for five games. He went back to the bench, never knowing when he would get his chance. And when Blatche went down against the Bobcats, Booker wasn’t sure how he would be utilized going forward.
“I really didn’t know. I didn’t know how severe it was,” Booker said of Blatche’s injury. “I know he was hurt, but I thought he would probably be back the next game, but I stayed ready and you just got to be ready at all times.”
But Coach Randy Wittman plans to lean on him more, especially since the 6-foot-7 Booker gives the Wizards versatility on both ends of the floor. “If he plays with that energy – that’s what he has to do,” Wittman said. “That’s a facet at that position that can really cause problems at the power forward position. He’s as quick and strong as anybody he’s going to play against, and he’s got to use those things to his advantage. I have to do a better job of utilizing those talents, whether it be defensively, but he fits into running for us, obviously, from the offensive standpoint.”
Booker has always been one of the Wizards’ better defenders and a high-energy player, but when he arrived in Israel, his team, B’nai HaSharon, wanted to make him more of a focal point on offense. It was an unusual position for him, but he developed enough confidence to where he showed off an improved low post game against the Bulls, scoring with his back to the basket.
“It was a different experience,” Booker said of playing overseas. “Me being over there, because I was the main player. They wanted me to be the main scorer and I wasn’t used to that from last year. But I think it helped me some this year. I wasn’t comfortable taking those shots last year. I’ve been working so I feel more comfortable taking it.”
Booker will always be undersized, but he will never use it as an excuse when he has to contend with taller players every night. “That’s why you have to play with heart,” Booker said. “In college I played in the ACC, played against players that were always taller than me so I was pretty much used to it coming here.”
Veteran Rashard Lewis is confident that Booker will be able to help the Wizards fill the void in Blatche’s absence. “Trevor’s been playing well. He plays well, he rebounds, he defends,” he said. “He does all the little things. He does the dirty work to help us win ball games. I have no problem with Trevor being in there at all. I know he’s going to go out and play hard and he’s going to play the game the right way.”