Andray Blatche made his return to Washington last night to face the team that amnestied him this summer and came away with a victory with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, 115-113 in double overtime.
Blatche was sent packing by the Washington Wizards in the hopes of making a locker room change and cleaning up the wasteland that is the Wizards roster. Blatche took most of the blame from Washington fans for the laughingstock that the team turned into last year and he didn’t take kindly to it.
Blatche decided to try and resurrect his career in the offseason and hired John Lucas to train him physically and mentally to get him ready for a new season and hopefully a new career. The training was not easy and Blatche had to change his body from being an out-of-shape, overpaid 6’11 big man to an asset to a team needing depth.
The Nets have been the beneficiary of that hard work as Blatche has become the first big man off the bench for the new look Nets team and he is flourishing in that role. So far.
The team has only played 33 games, but the results have been great. He is averaging 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, one assist and one steal in just over 20 minutes a game.
Last night the booing started immediately and harshly when Blatche checked in late in the first quarter and it continued every time he touched the ball all game long. It gave the Wizard fans something to do during the game and they took advantage of it.
“The thing is, the booing didn’t affect me at all because I don’t play for them,” Blatche said. “They’re supposed to boo me. This was no different than the crowd when we play against the Knicks, so I’m already used to it. I expected it. I knew this was going to happen when I signed with the Nets. I knew when I went to D.C. this was going to happen. I had it in my head that it wasn’t going to affect me.”
Blatche had a great game in his return regardless of the booes, finishing with a very nice line of 13 points, 12 rebounds and four steals in 19 minutes of play. He was active all game and made a few hustle plays as well as a couple of unnecessary turnovers. The good certainly outweighed the bad and that can be attributed to being a little too over-hyped in his return.
PJ Carlesimo was gushing about Blatche in the post-game and understandably so as Blatche played well and was able to leave with a win and hold his head high.
“I thought Andray was unbelievable,” Carlesimo said. “He couldn’t have given us a much better game. There’s a lot of people that would not have been able to handle the situation the first time back. He didn’t handle it, he thrived in it. It was unbelievable. He gave us defense, he gave us rebounds, he gave us scoring……… He did a great job.”
In the end winning the game was the most important thing to Blatche, “That was the one thing ……… I definitely didn’t want to come here and lose.”
Hopefully the resurrection of the career of the man they call “All Day Dre” continues because the Nets need the size and his contributions for them to make any noise in the playoffs.