Washington forward Andray Blatche has always had the talent. Blatche is a sturdy 6-11, and has a long wingspan and excellent athleticism for his size. He’s also an uncommonly skilled player for his size, able to hit the mid-range jumper, and put the ball on the floor. When Blatche has gone inside, he’s even showed some very nice post moves around the basket.
Drafted straight out of high school, the 23-year old Blatche is already playing in his fifth NBA season. During those five years, Blatche has gained a reputation as somewhat of a disappointing NBA player. He’s been a summer-league dynamo who will show flashes of greatness, but has yet to put it all together at the NBA level. He would drift in and out of games, and would sometimes get caught up trying to be to pretty rather than using his size and taking the ball right at the rim. Blatche’s career high in points is 10.0, he’s never shot better than 50%, and he’s never averaged more than two free throw attempts per game.
Since the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison, Blatche has come on strong. In the four games since Jamison left the lineup, Blatche has scored 24 or more points three times, and pulled down 11 or more rebounds three times. He’s still using his mid-range touch, but is also making a more concerted effort to go to the basket. He was 8-11 at the rim during his breakout 33-point game against the Timberwolves, and went to the line 9 times when the Wizards beat the Bulls last night. Blatche is picking his shots wisely, and has shot better than 50% from the field in each of the four games since Jamison left.
If Blatche can continue to play this way, he can be a major building block for the Wizards going forward. Additionally, second-year center JaVale McGee might have even more natural talent than Blatche, but has been even more erratic over the course of his brief career. If he can get with the program like Blatche has, the Wizards could have a very scary young starting frontcourt.
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.
The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.
Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.
With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.
Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.
Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.
When Stephen Curry wore a headband through the All-Star Game last weekend, West coach Steve Kerr jokingly called him “Seth” all night.
Dallas’ Seth Curry came out of the week-long break playing like an All-Star. He dropped 31 on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night, a career high for him. He hit 13-of-17 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, but did a lot of his damage in the midrange.
It wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves got a comfortable 97-84 win behind 27 points from Andrew Wiggins and 26 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nerlens Noel was not yet with his new team in time to play for the Mavs in this game.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points despite foul trouble and the San Antonio Spurs shook off the rust from a nine-day layoff to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 on Friday night for their third straight win.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in his return from a 15-game absence because of a fractured finger. LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 12 rebounds.
Blake Griffin scored 29 points for the Clippers, who have dropped consecutive games to the league’s two winningest teams since the All-Star break ended. They lost by 10 points at Golden State a night earlier. The Spurs have the league’s second-best record at 44-13.
Chris Paul added 17 points in his return after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.