WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Wizards center Andray Blatche, who
wound up on the wrong end of a collision with Shaquille O'Neal, will be sidelined two to four weeks with a strained left knee.
Blatche said he felt his knee pop when he was bumped by O'Neal
along the baseline late in the fourth quarter of Monday night's
103-87 loss to the Phoenix Suns. O'Neal was called for a foul,
while Blatche needed assistance to get back on his feet before
eventually hopping down the tunnel to the locker room.
Blatche, who has yet to miss a game this season, has 23 starts
and is averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. Though a natural
power forward, he became the regular starting center because of
injuries to Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas.
The injury leaves the Wizards, whose 9-35 record is the worst in
the NBA, with just 10 healthy players. Interim coach Ed Tapscott
said Darius Songaila or rookie JaVale McGee will start Wednesday's
game at Miami.
One of the injured could return this weekend. Guard DeShawn
Stevenson, out since Dec. 30 with a sore back, practiced and said
he hopes to play Friday against Philadelphia and Saturday against
the Los Angeles Clippers.
"If I don't feel pain after those two games, I'm going to keep
it going," said Stevenson, whose pain has come from a disc putting
pressure on a nerve in his lower back. "It's an ongoing problem.
I'll probably have it for the rest of my career."
Tapscott also said that Thomas, out since Jan. 12 with a torn
ligament in his left knee, won't be able to run for another two to
four weeks and won't be available for practice until two weeks
after that. The Wizards are hoping Thomas can recover without
Tapscott had no update on point guard Gilbert Arenas, who has
yet to play this season after a third surgery on his left knee in
September. Arenas has been playing 2-on-2 games with teammates but
has yet to take part in a regular practice.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)