- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sometimes, it’s the freak accidents and the busted plays that change the course of an NBA season. For Wizards forward Andray Blatche, it was a little of both.

“It was a freak play,” Blatche said of the calf injury he sustained Jan. 28 in a game at the Charlotte Bobcats. “When I first got in, Boris Diaw, he came down crazy out of control. I tried to take a charge and I fell down. I was getting up and I was like, ‘Aw, man.’

“I tried to play. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s just a cramp or a charley horse,’ so I guess I hurt it more as I tried to play through it, but I couldn’t even run or walk, really. It was bad.”

The injury has cost Blatche a month of playing time, but he plans to return to the court Saturday when the Wizards host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blatche practiced for the first time since the injury Thursday.

“The calf feels great,” he said. “The first day back with the team was very exciting, to be out there with my teammates. It’s been such a long time, to be up and running down the court and try to figure out these new plays.”

After a month away from the game, Blatche reflected on how much he missed it.

“It’s been tough, just being in the arena by myself without my teammates,” Blatche said. “We’re like a family here, we’re all like friends. A lot of them kept in touch with me, was checking on me. Being without basketball is especially tough. It’s something I grew up with.”

Wizards coach Randy Wittman will need to figure out how to work Blatche into his revamped rotation, which includes more playing time for veteran Roger Mason Jr. and Maurice Evans, and more bench time for center JaVale McGee and guard Nick Young, although Young’s status for Saturday is in question.

Young missed practice Thursday after bruising his right knee during Wednesday’s 102-95 loss to the Orlando Magic and had an MRI on Thursday. Forward Rashard Lewis spent his practice time shooting jumpers but did not participate in any contact activity. Lewis is day-to-day with a sore left knee.

Blatche said he’s looking forward to being “7-Day Dray” again, the nickname he acquired when he changed his number from 32 to 7 in 2009. The new number, Blatche said, stood for his commitment to working hard seven days a week.

“[I want] to get back to balling,” Blatche said. “Just balling, hooping and having fun. Go out there and be productive and helping the team win.”

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