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Wizards keep it close against Celtics, lose yet again

Washington remains only winless team in NBA

- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2012

BOSTON — No one knows better than Andray Blatche how difficult the start of the NBA season has been for him.

In addition to venting his frustrations with his role using Twitter, the Wizards' forward has been in self-described "offensive funk" for the first four games of the season.

Blatche broke out of his funk Monday night against the Celtics, scoring a game-high 28 points and adding nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough to pull the Wizards out of theirs.

The Wizards dropped a 100-92 decision to the Celtics at TD Garden — the back half of a home-and-home — to fall to 0-5 and remain the only winless team in the NBA.

Coach Flip Saunders didn't see most of it in person; he was relegated to watching on a television monitor from the locker room.

Barely two minutes into the game, Saunders was ejected after drawing two technical fouls. Saunders was looking for a foul call on Celtics center Greg Stiemsma after he blocked a shot attempt by forward Rashard Lewis. After Lewis and Stiemsma ended up in a heap, Saunders walked onto the court and protested loudly to referee Eli Rose, which got him ejected.

In a surprise move, it was Blatche who attempted to hold Saunders back while he continued to yell at Rose, and it was guard Jordan Crawford who patted Saunders on the rear end as Saunders headed for the showers.

"The whole situation with Flip [Saunders] getting ejected from the game kind of hyped everybody up," Blatche said. "All the players just wanted to play extra hard just to show him that we got his back."

Assistant coach Randy Wittman took over for Saunders.

"It happened so fast, it didn't really give us a chance to think about it," Wittman said of Saunders' ejection.

Fortunately, the Wizards moved past this latest drama and put forth their best effort of the season, even if the final score wasn't in their favor.

"This was a game that for 48 minutes, was as hard as we've played, and as well as we've played together," Wittman said. With a team like this, you're not trying to teach them how to play, but how to win."

The Wizards avoided their recent pitfalls — falling behind early, then expending all their energy to get back into the game, only to have the opposing team pull away in the end.

"That's how we got to play every game," Blatche said. "For us to be successful, we got to compete like that. From this game, we should just build off of it, and know that what it takes from us to carry out the rest of the game."

Blatche suffered a minor foot injury, and was limping in the visitors' locker room. He said he expects that, with treatment, he'll be fine for Wednesday's game against Orlando.

JaVale McGee added his third double-double in the last four games with 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Guard John Wall scored 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

"Today we came out and played hard from the beginning," Wall said. "If we just keep doing that, we can win these tight games."

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