Pistons-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

Although the Washington Wizards have been at their best over the last three weeks, the Detroit Pistons always seem to bring out their worst.

Seeking its second four-game winning streak this month, Washington looks to avenge a loss in Detroit two weeks ago and avoid a 14th defeat in 16 meetings to the visiting Pistons in Wednesday night's season series finale.

The Wizards (18-37) have won seven of nine, including a season-high four straight Feb. 4-11. That run, however, came to an end with a 96-85 loss at Detroit on Feb. 13, Washington's fifth consecutive defeat in the series. The Wizards have been outscored by an average of 11.8 points during that skid.

Washington could be feeling good about snapping those woes in the nation's capital, where it's won 10 of 12 while averaging 101.1 points - 9.1 more than its season mark.

After posting home wins over Denver and Houston, the Wizards pulled out a 90-84 victory at Toronto on Monday. Rookie Bradley Beal scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures for Washington, which outrebounded the Raptors 49-39 and held them to 36.7 percent shooting.

The Wizards have limited opponents to 93.6 points per game and 41.9 percent from the field during their 7-2 stretch.

"These are the kinds of things that we've talked about since we've been heading in the direction we're going," said coach Randy Wittman, whose team has won 14 of 23. "You're not always going to have an offensive game where you're clicking or you're playing as well as you want, and you have to find a way to win those games. We, with our defense, have done that. ... Our defense gives us a chance."

While Washington continues to focus on slowing down its opponents, Beal has provided a huge boost offensively. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft is averaging 20.2 points on 49.4 percent shooting over the last six games, going 13 for 26 from 3-point range.

"I feel a lot more comfortable and I have a lot more confidence as well," Beal said. "It's a learning process for me and it's been like that the whole year. Now the game is slowing down for me, so I'm making easier reads. I'm starting to learn how teams are playing me and I'm just playing off of that."

The Wizards have won nine of their last 11 when Beal has at least 15 points. He scored 10 on 5-of-13 shooting at Detroit on Feb. 13.

"He's been playing great basketball over the last two weeks," swingman Martell Webster said. "The kid is balling. He has a great rhythm, let's hope he keeps riding it."

The Pistons (22-37) are coming off their third straight loss, 114-103 to Atlanta on Monday. Detroit held a 66-26 edge in the paint but allowed 14 3s on 33 attempts and 23 points off 17 turnovers.

"That's not the formula to win basketball games," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We obviously had a high number of turnovers. Especially when you're a little bit shorthanded, everyone has to put a little bit more into the game."

Continuing to play without rookie big man Andre Drummond (back), Detroit was also missing Brandon Knight for the third consecutive contest due to a hyperextended right knee and fellow guard Will Bynum due to a one-game suspension for striking Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough on Saturday.

Bynum is expected to return Wednesday, but Knight's status is uncertain. Bynum had 20 points and eight assists off the bench against Washington earlier this month.

Recently acquired Jose Calderon scored a season-high 24 that night while Greg Monroe added 16 and a season best-tying 18 boards.

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