Blatche powers Wizards to fifth straight winNov 21, 2007 - 4:14 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Ticker) - Who needs Gilbert Arenas?
Andray Blatche had a career-high 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead the Arenas-less Washington Wizards to a 116-101 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
Arenas, still bothered by soreness and swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, was a game-time scratch for the second consecutive game.
A third-year pro from South Kent Prep in Connecticut, Blatche wasted no time in picking up the slack and helping the Wizards to their fifth straight victory.
"It felt great," Blatche said. "With Gilbert out, I wanted to come in and bring some energy and put some points on the board to make up for some of Gilbert's shots."
Blatche made his first six shots, capped by a dunk that gave him a season-high 13 points and the Wizards a 33-27 lead early in the second quarter.
Blatche had a career-high 16 points and the Wizards led, 60-44, in their highest-scoring first half of the season.
DeShawn Stevenson scored 11 of his 19 points, including two 3-pointers and a three-point play, during Washington's 17-4 to end the second quarter.
"I just came out and today and tried to be a little aggressive," Stevenson said. "I needed a mix of shooting my jumper and going to the basket."
"It was good to see DeShawn catch a rhythm, and Andray was making shots," said Caron Butler, who had a quiet night with six points, five rebounds and four assists. "We kind of just fed off their energy. I was just trying to feed those guys and make sure they got the rock."
Stevenson also had a dunk during the spurt in which he repeatedly flashed his trademark "I can't feel my face" gesture of waving his hand in front of his face after depositing 3-pointers in the faces of Sixers defenders.
"He was just letting the ball go, and that's what you've got to do sometimes," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He was setting everybody up when he didn't shoot the other night, but he didn't want to give the scouts too much to talk about."
Antawn Jamison added 19 points and seven rebounds for Washington. Antonio Daniels, starting in place of Arenas, had 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Not to be outdone, Blatche made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right corner to close the half.
Early in the fourth quarter, Blatche made back-to-back jumpers that pushed the Wizards over the 100-point plateau for the fifth consecutive game.
"He's got a good feel around the basket," said Jordan of Blatche. "He hit some jump shots. I thought he fed off the defensive end. He was a defender first. That is what I tell our guys. You're a defender first and share the ball offensively. You'll get opportunities if you screen, cut, work on your angles, your execution - things will come your way, and that is what he did tonight."
With the victory, the Wizards have won five in a row for the first time since December 21-29. They are closing in on the NBA record for most consecutive wins after opening a season with five or more consecutive losses.
The 2001-02 Sixers, coincidentally, started the season 0-5 and then won seven in a row.
The only bad news for Washington, aside from Arenas' absence, came in the third quarter when center Brendan Haywood sprained his left ankle. He finished with six points and four rebounds, ending his four-game streak of 10 or more rebounds.
Haywood is one of only 13 NBA players averaging at least 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.
"I suspect he'll try everything he can to be ready for tomorrow," Jordan said of Haywood's expected return for Wednesday's game in Charlotte.
The Wizards have won four in a row at home against the 76ers, who are 3-6 in November. Last season, the Wizards swept a three-game season series from the Sixers, the first series sweep since Philadelphia won all four games in 2002-03.
Reserve guard Louis Williams led Philadelphia with a career-high 25 points.
"I started being more aggressive and taking any 3-pointers, not to mention I was open on the majority of them, so I was just shooting them," said Williams, who also had four assists. "It's extremely frustrating because as well as I played tonight, it still wasn't enough. I think we've got to go back to the drawing board."
Thaddeus Young added 14 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Andre Iguodala was the only Philadelphia starter to score in double figures with 10 points.
"It's just the same old thing," Iguodala said. "It was like mass confusion out there on the court early in the game for a few minutes, and then they just jumped out on us. I think the whole game we were just never really on the same page. They just played basic basketball, and we were just awful."
WASHINGTON 116 FINAL
Nov 20 9:22 PM
WASHINGTON 98 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 20 8:50 PM
WASHINGTON 60 HALFTIME
Nov 20 8:07 PM
WASHINGTON 26 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 20 7:37 PM
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