Blatche benched in first quarter

Updated: March 24, 2010, 11:43 AM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- It's the last thing a bad team on a long losing streak needs -- a tantrum and a boycott from a young player who was just starting to put up some good numbers.

Andray Blatche was benched after the first 7½ minutes of the Washington Wizards' 95-86 overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

Coach Flip Saunders said Blatche didn't want to listen when the coach tried to talk to him about playing better defense.

"He didn't want to hear it," Saunders said. "I told him, 'If you don't come and talk, if you don't want to be coached, you're not going to play.' We had coaches go up to him three different times, they said he didn't want to play. Fifteen years, never seen anything like it.

"He can be [mad] at me, whatever, but you never leave your teammates out to dry like that. Not when you've lost 11 games in a row and you've got a chance to win a game. Uncalled-for. We'll deal with it," Saunders said.

Asked if Blatche will play in Wednesday night's game at Indiana, Saunders said: "I would doubt it. I don't know, but I would doubt it."

Blatche was not made available for comment. He had left the Wizards' locker room by the time it was opened to reporters.

Blatche had become the team's go-to scorer following the suspension of Gilbert Arenas and the deals that sent Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood elsewhere before the trade deadline last month. Inconsistent, often undisciplined and slow to mature over his first 4½ NBA seasons, Blatche moved into the starting lineup by default and had been averaging 23.2 points and 9.4 rebounds since the All-Star break. Washington, however, has lost 12 straight.

Ironically, his spat came on the day the Wizards issued a flier touting Blatche as a candidate for the league's most improved player.

"You know what I'm disappointed in?" Saunders said. "I'm disappointed that since we've started him, he gets 60 percent of the offense run through him. Coaches aren't wrong, no matter what. When a coach wants to teach you something, and you think you're above that, because you've played 16 games, good games? I had Kevin Garnett, that guy you could say one thing, he's up there, 'What do you want, Coach? I want to get better every time.' He never copped that type of attitude. That's ridiculous, it really is."

Saunders also said Blatche has lost the credibility of his teammates.

"Dray's still a young player, and he'll go through things like that," guard Nick Young said. "It's a disappointing situation from both ends. We really could've used Dray tonight. I told him, 'You're playing well -- you don't want to mess it up.' ... You've got to man up sometimes."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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