The Washington Times - December 15, 2008, 06:12PM

The Wizards will have another new look tonight as Andray Blatche will replace rookie JaVale McGee in the starting lineup at center.



Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said he decided to make the move for two reasons. 1) He wants the team to get off to a solid start — something they have struggled with consistently — and he thinks Blatche, whose play has been much improved since Tapscott took over, can help with that. 2) McGee has seen his production dip since moving into the starting lineup because he has to matchup with more experienced players, and Tapscott thinks he can benefit from watching the flow of the game and picking up on tendancies and then get into the game with a little bit of a mental head start and bring the energy he did so well at providing off the bench early in the season.


This should further boost the confidence of Blatche, who during the first 11 games of the season was in Eddie Jordan’s doghouse and averaging just 6.7 and 3.5 rebounds. Tapscott replaced Jordan after the 1-10 start and worked to find ways to encourage Blatche as a way to get more out of him. Blatche has said knowing Tapscott has faith in him makes him want to play harder. The result has been a jump to 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in Blatche’s 10 outings under Tapscott.


McGee, meanwhile, had been struggling with foul trouble and rarely found himself late in games. For the season he is averaging 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. As a reserve in Washington’s first seven games, McGee averaged 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.14 blocks. But since taking over as starting center 12 games ago, his numbers dipped to 6.9 points and 3.7 rebounds while his blocks slightly improved to 1.4.


Should be interesting to see how it works …


Etan Thomas will miss this game because he’s in Minnesota for a routine checkup on his heart. So Oleksiy Pecherov’s inactive streak will come to an end.