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Pistons spoil Wizards' bid for winning record

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- For the third time this season, the Washington Wizards needed one more victory for a winning record, a mark the franchise has not reached since 2009. Fueled by an embarrassing home loss one night before, the Detroit Pistons made sure the third time was not the charm.

Forward Josh Smith scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and guard Rodney Stuckey had 20 as the Pistons rallied during the third quarter for a 104-98 win over the Wizards on Saturday night.

Kyle Singler added 14 points and fellow forward Greg Monroe had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons (17-23). Detroit had lost seven of its last nine games, including two to the Wizards and 110-89 to the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

Washington failed in its attempt to post a winning record for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009. The Wizards entered with a season-high three-game winning streak but took the loss as 19 turnovers led to 22 points for Detroit.

"It was a disappointing and embarrassing loss last night and we wanted to be able to come in and give as much energy as possible to beat a hot Wizards team," said Smith, who made 8 of 11 shots from the field in the second half after starting 0 of 6.

The Pistons shot 51.3 percent from the field after halftime.

Tied at 88-88 with 5:46 remaining, Stuckey's 3-point play put Detroit in front for good. He scored seven of nine points for Detroit, including a jumper with 2:30 left for a 97-90 lead.

Behind Stuckey and Singler, Detroit's bench scored 41 points.

"Our second unit came in and kind of changed the game," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Guard John Wall scored 34 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and forward Martell Webster had 15 for the Wizards (19-20).

Wall delivered 10 straight points for Washington and his fast-break layup trimmed Detroit's lead to 101-98 with 22.9 seconds remaining.

Pistons guard Brandon Jennings made three of four free throws inside the final 21 seconds, sandwiching a turnover by Wizards forward Martell Webster. Jennings finished with 14 points.

Both teams shot below 60 percent from the free throw and Washington finished 16 of 29. Guard Bradley Beal scored a season-low seven points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman looked past missed shots when it came to the game's decisive stats.

"I don't really think or believe that's that reason we lost," Wittman said. "We talked about rebounding was critical against this team. We allowed them especially in the second half to beat us up on the boards."

Center Andre Drummond had 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Pistons won the battle of the boards 44-35.

Smith missed all six of his shots from the field in the first half after going 1 of 6 in Friday's home loss to the Jazz.

He clearly found his touch during halftime. Smith made 5 of 8 during the third quarter for 12 points. His jumper capped a 13-2 run and put the Pistons up 63-62 after trailing 54-46 at halftime before the crowd of 17,039.

"It's just something I had to build within myself," Smith said of his performance. "Just knowing that the shots weren't falling for me, but I wanted to be able to stay positive, stay aggressive. It was able to go down for me in the second half."

Washington reached .500 on two other occasions this season only to lose its next game.

"I think sometimes we pressure ourselves on that too much," Beal said. "Somebody just needs to not tell us our record and we'll just go out and play. ... We'll get over the hump. We still have a lot of games left and another two at home (on current homestand) that will hopefully put us over the edge."

Wizards forward Trevor Booker left in the first half with a sprained left ankle and did not return.

Washington swept Detroit in a home-and-home series on Dec. 28-30 after the Pistons won the season opener at home.

The Wizards shot 69 percent from the field in the first quarter for a 29-22 lead, but Stuckey's scoring fueled a Pistons rally as Detroit jumped in front 40-36.

Forward Jan Vesely scored six of Washington's next eight points on three plays at the rim. That started an 18-4 spurt as the Wizards entered halftime leading 54-46.

NOTES: Center Marcin Gortat had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Washington. ... Wizards G John Wall and Pistons G Rodney Stuckey each scored 13 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. ... Pistons G Chauncey Billups was inactive. The 16-year veteran has not played in three straight and four of five games. ... Wizards F Jan Vesely made a free throw in the third quarter, ending a streak of 14 consecutive misses dating to Dec. 2. ...Washington hosts the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, the same day the Pistons face the Los Angeles Clippers in Detroit.

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