Pistons hold on for 96-95 win over Wizards

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- If only the Pistons could play the Wizards every game, what a wonderful season it would be.
If John Wall's current struggles continue, a potentially nightmarish stretch lies ahead for Washington.
Brandon Knight scored a career-high 32 points, and Greg Monroe scored 12 of his 26 points in the third quarter as the Detroit Pistons swept the season series by fending off the Washington Wizards for a 96-95 win on Wednesday night.
Jose Calderon matched his season-high with 18 assists as the Pistons (23-37) shot 62.5 percent from the field through three quarters, outscored Washington 31-13 in the third quarter and snapped their three-game losing streak.
Trevor Ariza scored 22 points, Bradley Beal tallied 16 and Emeka Okafor had 15 for the Wizards (18-38), who trailed 96-87 with 1:06 remaining. Ariza then scored eight straight points on consecutive 3-pointers and two free throws following a clear path foul on Will Bynum with 12.3 seconds left.
Washington fumbled the ball on its final possession before Ariza airballed a potential game-winning 3-pointer from the left corner, ending the Wizards three-game winning streak. Since Jan. 7, Washington is 11-4 against teams with winning records, but 3-6 versus opponents with sub .500 records.
Wall played sparingly throughout the game, finishing with six points and four assists in 24 minutes. The point guard matched his season-high with seven turnovers, four coming in the first quarter.
Asked if he struggled getting on track early, Wall said, "I think it was great passes. I just think some of my teammates ain't catching them and some of them got tipped away, so (we've) just got to deal with it."
Over Wall's last nine games, he has committed at least six turnovers six times. In his last five games, the third-year player has twice committed seven turnovers and had six miscues in another.
"Tonight we got what we deserved,' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We didn't deserve to win that game."
The coach then turned his focus on the team's younger players.
"We got guys that haven't been in the rotation complaining," Wittman said. "The older guys are trying to help and they won't listen. That just tells me I'm just worried about myself, I'm not worried about winning this game. You have a tough game; it's my job to coach you. Tonight for whatever reason - it's bizarre to me - they didn't want to be coached.
"It's my job to decide who is deserving of playing out there and that's what I'll continue to do...if you can't handle that and you don't agree with it, that's what you get a game like tonight."
Knight, who missed the previous three games with a hyper-extended right knee, sank 5 of 6 shots from beyond the 3-point arc as the Pistons finished 9 of 15 on 3-point attempts.
"Brandon, I think we're going to have to rest him," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank cracked. "I think he's only going to be able to play one game a week."
Knight's jumper started a 21-2 run in the third and his 3-pointer capped the run, which put Detroit up 78-64. Knight and Monroe combined for 22 points in the quarter on 9 of 12 shooting while Calderon had nine assists.
Washington entered the fourth quarter trailing 82-68, but scored 11 unanswered points to pull closer at 82-79 as the Pistons missed their first eight shots of the quarter.
After the two sides traded baskets, Monroe's driving layup started a 6-0 spurt, putting Detroit up 90-81 lead with 2:59 remaining. Monroe grabbed 11 rebounds and went 12 of 17 from the field. Kim English scored 10 for the Pistons. Detroit entered Washington having lost four of five by an average of 18.7 points.
"The biggest thing for us is just playing with energy," Knight said. "That's what I saw sitting on the side for the past three games, our lack of fight. For me it wasn't about making shots or doing anything like that. It was about trying to make sure we played Pistons basketball and showed some fight."
Both teams shot 61 percent in the first quarter with the Pistons generating an assist on all 13 of their made field goals for a 28-24 lead. Detroit ran its assist streak to 16 and its lead to 39-29, but Washington rallied as Ariza's 3-pointer capped an 18-6 run.
Ariza scored 14 in the second as the Wizards led 55-51 at halftime.
Detroit has won six straight overall and 14 of 16 against Washington.
NOTES: Wizards forward Nene sat out after suffering a right shoulder injury in Monday's 90-84 win at Toronto. Trevor Booker made his first start since Nov. 14 and scored four points. ... Wizards center Kevin Seraphin scored 12 points after not playing in the previous two games. ...The Pistons three-game road swing continues Friday at New Orleans followed by a Sunday clash at San Antonio. ... The Wizards host the New York Knicks on Friday. Washington defeated New York at home 106-96 on Feb. 6.

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