Wizards’ Trevor Booker ready for next challenge after grabbing 19 rebounds

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, handles the ball against Washington Wizards forward Trevor Booker (35) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Washington. The Mavericks won 87-78. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) After you miss this, I’m getting that 20th rebound… (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Trevor Booker forced Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki into missing a foul line jumper, quickly turned around and hunted for the rebound. As he had for most of the game, Booker was first to touch the carom. Booker batted the ball up with his right hand, went back up with two hands but lost a tussle with John Wall for the rebound.

The lost rebound with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 87-78 didn’t seem like a big deal until Booker failed to grab another board for the rest of the game. He finished with a career-high 19, all in the first three quarters.

Booker grabbed the most rebounds for a Wizard since Andray Blatche had 19 against Cleveland on April 1, 2011 but he missed out on becoming the 11th player in the past 28 years to grab at least 20 rebounds, according to Basketball Reference. When asked the next day about Wall grabbing his rebound, Booker said, “They keep saying that. But I didn’t notice that.”

Booker admitted that he got “tired” in the fourth quarter when the Mavericks made a more concerted effort to keep him off the glass, but his performance was hard to ignore. He chased down loose balls, fought with Nowitzki and Sam Dalembert and was a magnet to nearly everything that bounded off the rim.

“That’s what he can do for us. He was all over the place,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s been really solid for us.”

In his past 10 starts, Booker is averaging almost a double-double with 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds. He has been better at home, contributing 11 points and 11.8 rebounds in the past four games at Verizon Center. In Wednesday’s game, both teams combined to miss 105 shots, so there were a lot of rebounds available. Booker had seven offensive rebounds.

“We missed a good bit of shots and I had an opportunity to get some boards and I felt pretty good going into the game,” said Booker, who also had 10 points to finish with his third double-double of the season.

Booker will have to continue to bring his high energy game against Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors, another playing with a reputation for hustling and producing momentum-changing plays.

“I’ll use my energy. Put a body on him, be physical. Two physical players, I’m sure I’m going to match up on him. Just do the same thing I did,” Booker said. “I know they are a physical team. They can score the ball. Athletic. We’ve got to try to match their energy.”

Booker wasn’t too upset that he failed to grab 20 rebounds against Dallas. “I think I got it, but they gave it to somebody else,” Booker said with a grin.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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Michael Lee · January 3, 2014

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