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Blatche out, Songaila to start

Forward Andray Blatche is out for tonight's game against the Utah Jazz with a sprained left knee, an injury he suffered during the third quarter of Saturday's loss to the Clippers when a Clipper fell into Blatche's leg while the two went for a rebound. An MRI taken today came back negative but Blatche is bothered by soreness and stiffness in the knee and could take a few days.

Darius Songaila will make his first start as a Wizard in Blatche's place. Coach Eddie Jordan said he's going with Songaila because he provides a better matchup against a big Utah front line that includes Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko and likes bringing Jarvis Hayes off the bench to match up with Jazz sixth man Matt Harpring.

I chatted with Blatche briefly in the lockeroom and he said he's a little dissapointed. "Happened right when I was starting to play well," Blatche said. In the last three games, Blatche made 13 of 16 shots, grabbed 18 rebounds and scored 31 points. You would have to think that Blatche showed enough to keep a spot for himself in Jordan's rotation once he returns but things will get tight when Caron Butler comes back Wednesday night.

The Jazz has won straight five straight and 11 of the last 12 at home. The Songaila/Okur matchup could be key because Okur torched the Wiz for 38 points when the teams met earlier this season because the Wiz big men could not or would not get out on him at the three-point. Songaila plays a similar game so he should be able to do a better job of staying with Okur in pick-and-roll situations. The Jazz has been torched by guards all season - Gilbert scored 51 and hit that memorable game-winner in the last meeting - so look for another big night from Agent Zero. The Wiz need this one badly.

By Ivan Carter  |  March 26, 2007; 8:03 PM ET
 
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