Wizards complete back-to-back sweep of Pistons

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman wants to his team to have a playoff mindset.
With the way his floor leader is playing, Wittman has every right to believe the Wizards can reach the postseason for the first time in six seasons.
Point guard John Wall scored 18 of his game-high 29 points after halftime -- his career-high seventh consecutive game with at least 20 points -- to lead the Wizards past the Detroit Pistons for the second time in three nights, 106-99 on Monday at The Palace.
Wall had nine points and two assists during the fourth quarter, when the Wizards outscored Detroit 28-12. Washington (14-14) erased a 12-point, second-half deficit to win for the fifth time in six games.
"I made a couple of jump shots, but I was just getting to the line a lot," said Wall, who shot 7-for-15 from the field and 14-for-15 from the foul line. "Fifteen is the most I've gotten at the line in a long time, and this is the way I have to play -- being aggressive, taking shots and making the right plays. But I thought the biggest thing is I didn't have any turnovers in the fourth quarter."
Washington leads the season series against Detroit 2-1 with one game left in January. That is not insignificant to Wittman, though there are 54 more games to plow through during the regular season.
"This puts us with at least a tie in this series, so we can't lose the series," he said. "That's what I'm trying to get the guys to think when we playing division teams or in the Eastern Conference. If we're going to fight down to the end and get where we want to get, there are tiebreakers in the seeding process, and I want them to start thinking about that."
Washington forward Trevor Ariza piled up 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and six steals, and guard Bradley Beal added 13 points.
The Wizards rolled past Detroit 106-82 on Saturday night in Washington, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Pistons.
Detroit had 20 second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds while taking a 10-point halftime lead but was limited to seven second-chance points and four offensive rebounds after the break.
"Most of their points came on second-chance points," Wall said. "They killed us in the paint, so we just had to gang rebound. That's how we beat them Saturday, by keeping them off the boards."
Forward Greg Monroe led the Pistons, who lost for the fifth time in six games, with 22 points. He added 10 rebounds. Center Andre Drummond had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and guard Brandon Jennings added 15 points and 14 assists. Forward Josh Smith, who was benched during the second half Saturday, chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds.
Detroit rookie guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all of his career-high 17 points in the first half, but the Pistons (14-19) lost for the sixth time in their past seven home games.
"We had a nice game going for about three and a half quarters," Pistons coach Mo Cheeks said. "In the fourth quarter, we just got stagnant. We didn't keep playing the way we had played for those three quarters."
The Pistons, who made 12 second-half turnovers, blew a fourth-quarter leads for the third time in their past four home games.
"We just stopped moving the ball like we did in the first half," Caldwell-Pope said. "We started turning it over a lot. We have to protect the ball in the second half like we did in the first half."
The Wizards opened the fourth quarter with 11 unanswered points, capped by forward Martell Webster's 3-pointer, to take an 89-87 lead.
Perimeter shots by Beal and center Nene nudged the lead to 101-96. Wall's fadeaway jumper in the final minute clinched the win.
NOTES: G Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons' sixth man, missed the game due to a sore right shoulder. He sat out two games earlier in the month with the same injury. ... Washington begins a three-game homestand against the Dallas Mavericks on New Year's Day. Detroit gets a rare five-day break before playing the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Sunday afternoon. ... The Pistons fell to 0-13 when the opponent shoots 50 percent or better. Washington made 39 of its 78 shots. ... Detroit moved its home shootaround to The Palace in order to shake things up. The team usually holds shootarounds at its practice facility. ... Washington PG John Wall began the night ranked in the NBA's top 20 in scoring (19.9 points per game, tied for 18th), assists (9.1 per game, third), steals (2.07 per game, fourth) and minutes (37.3 per game, 10th).

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