- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DALLAS — There was just a hint of a smile on Andray Blatche’s face Monday night. The Washington Wizards had just lost to the San Antonio Spurs, but Blatche had a relaxed demeanor that is no longer present at Verizon Center.

Blatche has been silent after home games since his return from a calf injury that kept him sidelined for five weeks, ducking out of the locker room without speaking to the media. It’s a distinct change in behavior from the normally accessible power forward.

But Monday in San Antonio, a relaxed Blatche was joking with his teammates as he dressed and waited by his locker to answer reporters’ questions following the 112-97 defeat.

“I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable,” Blatche said, referring to his game, and his mindset when he’s on the road. “I’m just trying to be more aggressive, trying to attack the rim. This is one of the first games I’ve been doing that since I’ve been back. I just have to get back into the flow of things and keep working hard.”

Blatche scored nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, went 3-of-4 from the free throw line and added four rebounds against the Spurs. Blatche and his teammates faced a quick turnaround with a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

“I pushed it to the limit [Monday night],” said Blatche, who played 17:24. “I have to keep working hard and stay focused and try to get back where I was.”

Blatche will need time to work himself into game shape and improve his mental focus, something he is finding easier to do away from the critical home crowds.

“I thought he got into a little bit of a rhythm there,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s just got to continue to work, get his conditioning up. He gets tired, his leg get tired, and you see that as his minutes on the floor go up.”

Forward Nick Young said the difference in Blatche is obvious when the team is on the road.

“You know, I’ve been on ‘Dray since he came back,” Young said. “I’ve been inside his head, trying to give him confidence. It’s easier when you don’t have the boos. So he came out and he stayed focused because he didn’t have to worry about the boos.”

Blatche and Young have been the subject of trade rumors as the trading deadline approaches Thursday. NBA sources have confirmed that Washington is seeking to trade Blatche, who signed a contract extension two years ago that will pay him $28 million through the 2014-15 season.

Teams also have contacted the Wizards about deals for Young, Trevor Booker and JaVale McGee. John Wall has been deemed only untouchable player.

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