The Washington Wizards were ingratiated by their leading scorer Bradley Beal, after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury, but it was Washington’s bench that led the way as they outlasted the Detroit Pistons with a 97-95 win.
Veteran big man Nene came off the bench and led the Wizards in scoring with 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field. Otto Porter added 17 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ramon Sessions had a near double-double with 14 points and nine assists.
The aforementioned Bradley Beal came back from injury and looked rusty as he scored only seven points in 28 minutes of play. John Wall had an off night as well, recording only eight points and seven assists. Marcin Gortat had the assignment of guarding Andre Drummond tonight and played pretty solid as he had 14 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Speaking of Drummond, the Wizards contained the big fella and held him to eight points and 13 rebounds, keeping him from recording a double-double for the first time this season. Despite grabbing double-digit rebounds, Drummond didn’t grab a single offensive rebound in his 37 minutes of play.
Pistons guard Reggie Jackson led all scorers with 20 points and nine assist, while Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova scored 18 points apiece. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knocked down four three-pointers on his way to 16 points.
The most glaring advantage Washington had over Detroit was the production from their bench. The Wizards outscored the Pistons bench 51-to-15. Washington’s reserves actually outplayed their starters; scoring five more points, dishing out four more assists and committing three less turnovers.
With 9.2 seconds left in regulation, the Wizards had the ball coming out of the timeout with a 97-95 lead. The one thing Washington couldn’t afford to do is turn the ball over on the inbounds play. Well they would, not by a poor pass but on a five-second violation, giving the Pistons plenty of time to tie or win the ballgame in front of their home fans. The Wizards wouldn’t sulk as they played very good team defense and forced Marcus Morris to take an unbalanced three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, finalizing the Wizards’ 97-95 win over Detroit.
Washington would take a six point lead after the first quarter and extend it to 14 points with the help of the second unit. The Pistons would close the first half on a 20-6 run, seven of those points coming from Reggie Jackson.
Detroit would come out in the second half and blitz the Wizards with a 15-6 run. Washington head coach Randy Wittman would go to the bench at that time and they would respond with a 17-4 run to end the quarter, giving themselves a slim 75-73 lead.
With 6:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, Caldwell-Pope would give the Pistons an 87-85 lead with a three-pointer. However, Garrett Temple would respond 13 seconds later with a three-ball of his own to regain the Washington lead. Despite both players having off nights, Bradley Beal and John Wall would enter the game with six minutes left and hit back-to-back midrange jumpers to extend the Wizards lead to 92-89.
Wall would come up huge again as he drove to the hoop and threaded the needle with a nice pass to Gortat to give him the easy flush, extending the Wizards lead to 96-91. Beal would split a couple free throws to give the Pistons an opening, but Washington’s defense made a nice stop at the end to cement the victory.
The Wizards outrebounded the best rebounding team in the league 42-to-38, while also having a 50-to-42 advantage in paint points.
Washington’s next game will be Tuesday as they host the Indiana Pacers. Detroit will go on the road and play the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.