Saturday April 2, 2011 11:15 a.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
It's that time of year for Andray Blatche to showcase his talents -- when the season is pretty much over and nothing is on the line. Blatche had the best game of his Wizards' career against lowly Cleveland, scoring 36 points and grabbing 19 rebounds -- 16 of them offensive, setting a franchise record -- as the Wizards beat the Cavaliers 115-107 Friday night at Verizon Center.
Andray was great tonight," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. "I dont think Ive ever seen that. Thats a lot of offensive rebounds.
A year ago, Blatche had a great run in April as well, averaging 21.5 points, 8.6 rebounds a 5.1 assists a game as the season was played out with no hope of the post-season. Blatche's late surge was rewarded as the Wizards' brass gave him a 5-year contract.
This season, like the team, has been a huge disappointment for Blatche. Statistically speaking, he has been solid, averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds but his defense, decision-making, shot selection and leadership has been spotty at best as the team has limped to 19 wins so far. Slowed by a broken foot last summer, it took Blatche 30 games this season to finally get in game shape.
Blatche missed pretty much all of March with a shoulder injury and I thought he would likely come back out of shape again,but that was not the case at all. Blatche looked spry and played with an edge coming off the bench in the loss to Miami on Wednesday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing 8 boards.
Blatche carried it over to the Cavaliers' game as he was aggressive and assertive from the jump.
It feels good to be back and Im having fun again," Blatche said. "When I was out I realized you cant take anything for granted, so I came back with a lot of energy and Im just happy to be playing again.
He should be. This is Blatche's time of year.