Stars right ship for Detroit Pistons in win over Washington
By DAVE HOGG
DETROIT — There’s no trophy for beating a slumping team like the Washington Wizards in late December.
For Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons, though, Wednesday night’s victory felt like a big deal.
After losing nine of 11, the Pistons went on a 23-2 run to start the second half and held on to beat Washington 106-95.
“That game was pretty close to a must win, just for the sake of our morale and righting the ship,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We came out with focus and energy in the third quarter, and that meant we weren’t fighting from behind down the stretch.”
The Pistons didn’t make it easy on themselves, turning the ball over 24 times for 26 Washington points.
The Wizards trailed by 22 but got as close as three in the fourth quarter, including one possession where Trevor Ariza missed a tying 3-point attempt.
“I think we turned the ball over 12 times in the fourth quarter, and that’s obviously not acceptable,” Casey said. “Luckily, we had enough of a cushion to survive taking our foot off the gas pedal, but we’ll be using those as teaching moments.”
Griffin had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Andre Drummond got his 10th straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“When you turn the ball over 24 times, you know you can do a much better job,” Griffin said. “They are aggressive in the passing lanes, but there are also things we can control better than we have.”
Two lesser-known Pistons played key roles.
Casey took Luke Kennard out of the lineup and replaced him with defensive-specialist Bruce Brown, using the rookie against both Bradley Beal and John Wall. Langston Galloway stayed in his usual role providing offense off the bench, while Kennard didn’t play. Galloway finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
The Wizards lost for the eighth time in 10 games and are 4-16 on the road. Wall had 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Beal scored 21 points.
“We just had four really bad minutes of basketball,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “When you are struggling on the road, you have to play all 48 minutes.”