Let's get a couple of things straight about last night:
- That was the Andray Blatche that we've been waiting for all of these years. Those glimpses of talent that have kept us patient through the boneheaded passes, the clumsy attempts at running a fast break, and the run-ins with the law are finally coming together and we're starting to see the whole package come together. It's a beautiful thing to watch, especially if you've watched since the early days and how he's progressed over time.
- If you take tonight's game as the mantle by which Andray is judged for the rest of his career, you'll be severely disappointed. Even Tim Duncan would look inconsistent if he was asked to score 30 points in 27 minutes while shooting over 80% from the floor. Things won't come as easy as they did tonight for Andray, but the key is to make sure that even when his shot isn't falling that his approach and effort stay up; because on the nights when shots aren't going down, there has to be something to anchor your performance. If he can maintain that focus on the nights where things aren't going his way, then we'll be able to say with confidence that Andray has turned the corner and realized the potential that he's given us tastes of for the last few years.
Andray Blatche looked more comfortable than he ever has in a Wizards uniform en route to a new career high 30 points and a Wizards 123-104 win against New Jersey. Sure, he had Yi Jianlian and Eduardo Najera guarding him. But Wiz fans are used to Blatche being his own worst enemy, and not necessarily a Halloween nightmare to whomever is guarding him. After the game, Flip Saunders praised Blatche for his methodical offensive movement, his ability to read the defense, and overall, his consistency to this point of the season. But no one is going to get too excited over the Blatche they’ve seen so far.
Coming into this game, the Wizards were without Butler and Jamison, which meant that someone had to step up tonight besides Arenas, and tonight that person was Andray Blatche, who had a career high 30 points. There were the 18 foot jumpers that came after a behind-the-back move; there was an up and under move. At one point, Blatche even passed up an open shot to get Nick Young his first basket late in the game. That type of unselfishness is usually not a part of Blatche’s game. In just 26 minutes of play, Blatche had 30 points, and he shot a blistering 83% (15-18 from the field). After the game, Haywood remarked, "My son, my son, I’m so proud of my son." When one writer asked Saunders to comment the full array of new moves Blatche unveiled tonight, Coach Saunders quipped, "He had never seen those shots either, and if they hadn’t gone in, he’d have never shot them again."
Again, it's obviously too early to know if Blatche can keep this level of play going, but it is acceptable to look at his performance last night and wonder exactly how good he can be. According to Basketball-Reference.com, since 1986-1987 only 11 players have had games where they shot better than 83.0 percent on at least 18 field goal attempts while also recording six rebounds and two assists. Some of those players include Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, Carlos Boozer, Shaquille O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Shawn Marion, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Kevin McHale. That's certainly not a bad group of players to be associated with, although Willie Anderson and Loy Vaught also accomplished that feat within the same timeframe, so take that for what it's worth.
"He's played fabulous since Tawn went down," Gilbert Arenas said. "We've been waiting for this, for four or five years now. He finally decided this would be the year. He put in the work and it's showing." It's showing in Blatche's jumper. He made his first five shots on Saturday, including some ridiculous turnaround jumpers and a long baseline jumper that made Jamison, one of his harshest critics, get out of his seat and applauded. Blatche finished the night 15 of 18 from the floor and scored the most points by a Bullet/Wizards without a free throw since Rex Chapman scored 32 in a game back in 1992. That's taking it back. . .to when Blatche was six.
Speaking of Andray Blatche, he absolutely killed the Nets last night. Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from this kid, he had a great game, and he will be a great talent in the future, but you can’t let him get 30 points exclusively taking jump shots (15-18 shooting). When you allow Gilbert Arenas to go off, you have to stop everyone else (the let him get his philosophy). When you let 2 players score 62 points on 24-31 shooting, you probably won’t win the game. Despite being a bulldog, Najera wasn’t quick enough or tall enough to stick with Blatche. I don’t know how Sean Williams has been doing in practice, but you need to give him a chance to stop him. Instead, Lawrence Frank just sat on his hands while he watched Blatche embarrass Yi and Najera.
The emergence of Blatche, who is averaging 21 points a contest through the first three games, is going to be huge for the Wizards since their stars continue to be decimated by injury. The 6’ 11" forward has been an enigma in his first three years in the league, and seeing him finally put it together is a godsend for the Wizards, who lack depth in the front court.
Twenty four hours after his team fell to the Atlanta Hawks, Arenas put on full display the myriad skills that have made him a three-time all star in the Wizards' 123-104 victory over the New Jersey Nets in Washington's home opener. Arenas, who last played in back-to-back regular season games back on April 11 and 12 of 2008, led the Wizards with a game-high 32 points, marking the first time he has eclipsed 30 points in a game since Nov. 14, 2007.
"We have a lot of depth," Arenas said. "Everybody can contribute. We get everybody back, we can be even deadlier. Right now, we just have to maintain until Antawn and Caron get back." The Wizards shot 61.5 percent, their best performance since Dec. 18, 2002, against Memphis. The Wizards, who also boasted a .643 clip from 3-point range (9-for-14), left the court to a standing ovation from the fans who last season suffered through a 19-63 campaign.
Although he began with a turnover in the game's first minute, Arenas settled down soon after and made a driving layup with 9 minutes 46 seconds to play in the opening period to give Washington a 7-6 lead. Then 40 seconds later, Arenas made a three-pointer, and it was clear something special was in store. The most raucous applause of the game came at the conclusion of the first quarter, when Arenas swished a jumper from just inside 40 feet with 0.2 of a second to play.
"McGee gave me a really hard foul, and as the NBA goes, you have to protect each other," the Nets second-year wing said after his team was pummeled by the Wizards, 123-104, at their Verizon Center home opener. "It’s an unwritten rule. You protect each other. And (Brendan) Haywood told me that’s what McGee was supposed to do. What can I say? I have to respect that. But we have to do that, too." Veterans would merely call this a time-honored NBA lesson; for the voluble Douglas-Roberts – a renowned practitioner of the old-school game from the playgrounds of west Detroit – it was more of a manhood thing. So he called out his Nets teammates, which wasn’t hard to do. They fell to 0-3, it had little to do with Devin Harris missing the game because his groin strain flared up again, and it had everything to do with playing defense that was, as Lawrence Frank termed it, "Pitiful."
Best of Twitterville
Twitter / The BF gang
I really like the Arenas/Foye/Miller threesome out there. So hard to help out on Gilbert with those two in. Great situational lineup.
Twitter / Michael Lee
Blatche trying to take a charge? I think I know what his Halloween costume is today. A baller. Dude has 16 pts.
Twitter / Mike Jones
Andray Blatche's harshest critic in the past, Antawn Jamison, gave him a standing ovation after another big shot.
Twitter / chad dukes
Gil to the ref: "you didn't see me push him, you just saw him fall! You weren't even looking!"
Twitter / Truth_About_It
Paul Davis sighting ... looks like he's the Wizards' version of a human victory cigar -- D.C. up 121-94 with 3 minutes left.
Twitter / wizznutzz
Incites: NJ's Lopez need neck shave like Ledell need neck; 7-day Dre need 10 more days contract! An how many cigs Oberto bummed from Vlade?
Twitter / A.I.
the wizards actually dont suck! this new coach of theirs is very promising...
Twitter / Sue B
wizards won, that's appropriate for Halloween
Twitter / Jimmy
This dude Andray Blatche on Washington shot 15-18.. the whole Wizards team didn't miss s***!
Twitter / November
Wizards get their 2nd win of the season by the end of October. Last year's 2nd win: November 25. #NBA
Twitter / JaVale McGee
@cdouglasroberts stop tryna dunk on me lol
Twitter / Chris Dougey-Roberts
RT @bigdaddywookie: @cdouglasroberts stop tryna dunk on me lol<<I respect your foul my dog. I love that about you. (pause)
Twitter / JaVale McGee
Twitter / Chris Dougey-Roberts
RT @bigdaddywookie: fasho<but don't do that shii again! I owe you one!! & change that picture man. You loom like on of the DeBarge's.
Twitter / JaVale McGee