John Wall, Andray Blatche out against Los Angeles Lakers
At full strength, the Wizards were already facing a severe talent disparity against the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. But they will now host the Lakers at Verizon Center without two of their three top scorers in John Wall and Andray Blatche, who will sit because of respective knee ailments.
Wall will his eighth game of the season because of tendinitis in his right knee, while Blatche will miss his third after developing some swelling in his left knee. Blatche missed the final two games of the Wizards' west coast trip against the Lakers and Sacramento with a left hip contusion. He returned to score 14 points in 40 minutes on Friday against the New York Knicks, but suffered discomfort the next day. Blatche had his knee drained on Monday night but was held out of the morning shootaround.
"Feels a lot better. I'd still say, I don't think he'll go tonight," said Saunders.
Saunders was more definitive about ruling out Wall, who has been kept out of practice and held back from running since finishing with just eight points, six assists and five rebounds against the Knicks. The Wizards decided that it was necessary to shut down Wall rather than limit him to being a game-time decision, as he has been on many occasions this season.
"We're going to try to stay away from these situations, because I think it's been unfair for the preparation of our other players, staff and everybody, where we go into a game not knowing if he's going to play, not going to play, so we're gong to try to make those decisions as early in the day as much as we can," Saunders said.
Wall missed four games with a sprained left foot, then two more with a bruised left knee, and sat out against Sacramento with more problems in his left foot. Saunders said Wall is "frustrated" but attempted to help Wall with humor. "I was kind of kidding him. I told him, in the first 20 games, you missed more games than John Stockton missed in 20 years," said Saunders.
Stockton actually played in 82 games in all but two of his 19 seasons, missing a total of 20 games. Wall has been dealing with tendinitis since summer league, and Saunders added that the problem might not go away. "If every guy in our league sat out a week because of tendinitis, we might have to forfeit some games, because everybody has some kind of tendinitis, just the way they are," he said. "I don't think, with his situation, that he's ever going to be painfree from that, so what we're going to do is monitor him.
"Some situations, we have to make sure we get it right," Saunders said. "We get him healthy, get him where it's manageable where he can play and play at the high level he needs to play at. No question, when he's not physically right, he can't play at the same level. If can't play at the same intensity, same enthusiasm and aggressiveness, then he's not the player that John Wall is. "
After Wall scored 22 points with 14 assists and three blocks last week against the Lakers, Saunders knows that the situation for his team doesn't look promising. "When you play at home and you're undermanned, we have to play harder than them, we've got to play with more passion, we've got to play unselfish and we have to play smarter," he said. "Those are the things that we have to do in order to compete and to try to get our fans into the game, even though it might be split tonight from a fan standpoint."
| December 14, 2010; 11:43 AM ET
Categories: Andray Blatche, John Wall
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