Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 20 News List

NBA: Bobcats lacerate Wizards 95-86 in OT

‘JUST DIDN’T WANT TO PLAY’ Wizards coach Flip Saunders sent Andray Blatche to the bench, despite his strong performance, after a dispute about playing defense

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

The Washington Wizards’ woeful run continued with a 95-86 overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday, the home team’s 12th consecutive defeat made worse by a blazing row between the coach and one of his players.

Gerald Wallace had 17 points, 19 rebounds and got two opponents to foul out in overtime to help the Charlotte Bobcats set a club record for victories on Tuesday night with a win over the Washington Wizards.

The win was No. 36 of the season for Charlotte, one more than the previous high set last season, and moved the team a step closer to the first playoff berth in its history.

The loss moved the Wizards closer to a dubious bit of history.

Washington has dropped 12 straight and would equal a club mark if it were to lose at Indiana yesterday. The Wizards haven’t won since defeating lowly New Jersey 89-85 on Feb. 28.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders benched Andray Blatche in the first quarter after the forward, who has been one of the few bright spots in a dreadful season, refused to return to the action after the two argued over his defensive contribution.

“I took him out of the game because I wanted to talk to him about not getting back on defense,” Saunders told reporters. “He didn’t want to hear it.”

“I told him ‘if you don’t want to talk, don’t want to be coached, you’re not going to play.’ We had coaches go up to him three different times. He just said he didn’t want to play,” Saunders said.

“In 15 years [of coaching], I’ve never seen anything like it. Never,” he said.

Blatche is averaging career highs of 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds this season and has been impressive since breaking into the starting line-up about five weeks ago.

“He can be pissed at me but you never leave your team mates hanging out to dry like that,” Saunders said.

“No matter what. Especially when you’ve lost 11 games in a row and have a chance to win one. It’s uncalled for,” he said.

Saunders said he did not think Blatche, who scored four points but no rebounds in seven minutes against the Bobcats, would play against Indiana yesterday.

The Wizards (21-48) made a good start to the campaign but have struggled since December when floor leader and three-times All-Star Gilbert Arenas was suspended for the rest of the season for bringing guns into the locker room.

Saunders and general manager Ernie Grunfeld opted to revamp the team to build for the future, a decision that has backfired remarkably with mounting losses and dwindling Verizon Center crowds.

In Tuesday’s defeat, Al Thornton hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 82-82 and force overtime but the Wizards were swamped in the extra session.

The 23-year-old Blatche, playing in his fifth NBA season, was also a no-show in the Wizards’ locker room after the game.

“I am really disappointed in him,” Saunders said. “Since he’s been starting, 60 percent of the offense is run through him. He thinks I yell at him because he takes bad shots. He’s taken twice as many shots as anybody.”

“Coaches aren’t wrong. When a coach wants to teach you ­something, you can’t think you’re above that,” he said.

PACERS 98, PISTONS 83

At Auburn Hills, Danny Granger scored 32 points as the Indiana Pacers ended a nine-game road losing streak.

Detroit was cut from the playoff race with the loss, ending eight years of postseason appearances.

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