Following his best offensive game since a long injury absence, Caron Butler will see if he can build off the performance when he faces one of the league’s top defensive teams.
Second on the Wizards (35-33) with 20.9 points per game, Butler missed 16 consecutive games from Feb. 6-March 11 with a strained hip flexor. In his first four games back, he averaged 14.5 points on 35.1 percent shooting, but Butler broke out Friday night in a matchup against lowly Miami.
The All-Star forward scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, hitting three 3-pointers, and added six assists as Washington beat the Heat 103-86. He had 16 points in the first half, helping the Wizards build a 52-39 lead.
“I was just trying to assert myself early and try to establish a rhythm because when you’re playing a game like this, you want to put teams away,” Butler said.
He is averaging 22.8 points in his last eight games against the Pistons (49-19), and Washington has gone 5-3. Butler scored 22 points on Jan. 2 in a 106-93 home loss to Detroit in the only meeting this season.
While the Pistons are likely to finish second in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are clinging to fifth place with a half-game lead on Toronto. After Sunday’s home game, Washington begins a five-game road trip through the end of March.
“We know what we have to do,” said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, averaging 26.1 points and 10.6 rebounds over the last eight games. “Detroit is a great defensive team, so we can’t get frustrated if things aren’t going well offensively. That’s the task at hand, and we’ll really need to carry that over to the West Coast trip as well because those teams that we play can really fill up the boxscore.”
Washington faces a Detroit team which is holding opponents to 90.8 points per game this season to rank among the league leaders. The Pistons are 27-4 this season when not limiting the opposition under 90 points, but one of those defeats came in their most recent game in an 89-73 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday.
The Pistons scored their second-fewest points of the season and shot just 39.7 percent from the field after scoring 136 points on 60.4 percent shooting the previous night in a win over Denver.
The Pistons led by three at the end of the first quarter, but scored just 13 points in the second to trail 45-38 at the half. Rasheed Wallace led Detroit with 16 points but went 6-of-17 from the field, and Chauncey Billups was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak, which included wins over San Antonio and New Orleans.
“Obviously, when we’re not making shots, we put our defense at a disadvantage and we don’t get a chance to set up like we want,” said Tayshaun Prince, who was 5-of-14 from the floor.
The Pistons and the Wizards close the season series April 11 in Detroit.