- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Andray Blatche knew exactly what he was doing. He was one rebound away from the first triple-double of his star-crossed, five-year career.

Cartier Martin had other ideas.

The New Jersey Nets’ Chris Douglas-Roberts threw up an airball in the final seconds of the Washington Wizards’ 109-99 win on Sunday night. Blatche was poised to catch the ball, but it went right into his teammate’s hands.

The triple-double will have to wait.

In a most bizarre season for Blatche, he was certain he had the triple-double he so badly wanted.

“I thought I did. I thought I did. My teammate robbed me, man. My own teammate robbed me,” Blatche laughed. “I was shocked and appalled.”

A moment earlier, it looked as if Blatche had recorded his 10th rebound. The statistical monitor said so, but he was called for a foul.

Blatche finished with 20 points, a career-high 13 assists and nine rebounds to help Washington win a matchup between two of the NBA’s worst teams.

Blatche’s performance overshadowed a game between two clubs with a combined record of 34-119. He missed 13-of-18 shots from the field, but hit all 10 of his free throw attempts.

On Sunday, he passed the 1,000 point mark for the first time in his career and managed to get called for a technical foul on a play he was fouled — something that was noted by his critical coach, Flip Saunders.

Saunders has had plenty to criticize about Blatche this season.

In January, the coach suspended him for a game because Blatche complained that not enough plays were being run for him. By mid-February, after much of the team was traded, he became the senior Wizard and the go-to guy. After averaging 22 points since the trades, he again incurred the wrath of Saunders, who benched him on March 23 for not listening to Saunders’ pleas to play better defense.

“For him, there’s always a challenge,” Saunders said. “He still has to cut down on turnovers. He still has to work defensively. He had some lapses.”

Washington broke its franchise-record, nine-game losing streak, and scored 100 points for the first time in its last 20 games.

The Wizards had six players in double figures. Mike Miller had 17 points and a season-high 13 rebounds. Nick Young, Shaun Livingston and Martin had 16 points and JaVale McGee scored 14.

Brook Lopez and Devin Harris led New Jersey with 22.

It was just Washington’s second win in its last 19 games. The Wizards beat the Nets on Feb. 28, and promptly dropped 16 straight — their longest skid ever.

The Nets know something about losing. New Jersey began the season with an 18-game losing streak, and on Wednesday, the Wizards concluded their 16-game slide. According to STATS LLC., it was the first time two teams with such lengthy losing streaks met since March 19, 1998.

New Jersey had won four of its previous six games to reach 11 wins — avoiding the ignominy of the worst record in NBA history. The Nets were coming off Saturday’s 115-87 home victory over New Orleans.

Quickly, the Nets found out how difficult it is for them to win two nights in a row. Washington led throughout, and by the time 1:54 was left in the first quarter, Blatche had eight assists — one more than his career high.

The Wizards led 78-60 with 2:35 to play in the third quarter, but New Jersey went on a 21-7 run to cut the lead to 85-81 with 7:22 remaining.

“We did a lot of fighting just to recover from the way we played in the first half,” Lopez said. “I think there were some errors made late in the game that kind of killed our run a bit and put them back in control.”<

NOTES: The Nets have lost five straight to the Wizards and dropped all four games to Washington this season — the first time they’ve been swept by the Wizards since the 1987-88 season. … Washington played without F Al Thornton, who missed his sixth straight game with a right hip flexor and G Quinton Ross, out with a bruised back. … G Cedric Jackson, who was signed to a 10-day contract on Wednesday, became the 24th player for the Wizards this season — a team record. He had did not score in six minutes. … The attendance was 10,112 — lowest of the season.

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