x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Saunders blasts Blatche after Bobcats defeat

The Washington Wizards' 12th consecutive defeat wasmade worse by a furious row between the coach and one of his players.

The Washington Wizards' woeful run continued with a 95-86 overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday, the home team's 12th consecutive defeat made worse by a furious row between the coach and one of his players. Flip Saunders, the Wizards coach, benched Andray Blatche in the first quarter after the forward, who has been one of the few bright spots in a dreadful season, refused to return to the action after the two argued over his defensive contribution.

"I took him out of the game because I wanted to talk to him about not getting back on def-ence," Saunders said. "He didn't want to hear it. I told him 'If you don't want to talk, don't want to be coached, you're not going to play'. We had coaches go up to him three different times. He just said he didn't want to play." "In 15 years [of coaching], I've never seen anything like it. Never. "He can be upset at me but you never leave your teammates hanging out to dry like that.

"No matter what. Especially when you've lost 11 games in a row and have a chance to win one. It's uncalled for." Saunders said he did not believe Blatche, who scored four points but no rebounds in seven minutes against the Bobcats, would play against Indiana in the Wizard's next game. The Wizards (21-48) made a good start to the campaign but have struggled since December when floor leader and three-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas was suspended for the remainder of the season for bringing guns into the locker room.

In Tuesday's defeat, Al Thornton hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 82-82 and force overtime but the Wizards were swamped in the extra session. The 23-year-old Blatche, playing in his fifth NBA season, left the arena before the end of the game and was nowhere to be seen in the Wizards' locker room. "I am really disappointed in him," Saunders added. "Since he's been starting, 60 per cent of the offence is run through him. He thinks I yell at him because he takes bad shots. He's taken twice as many shots as anybody.

"Coaches aren't wrong. When a coach wants to teach you something, you can't think you're above that." @Email:sports@thenational.ae