Wizards-Pistons Preview

The Associated Press

The Detroit Pistons have been hampered by a poor defense all season, but it's never been more apparent than during their current slump.

A visit from the Washington Wizards would normally appear to be an ideal opportunity to turn things around given Detroit's recent history at home in the series, but perhaps not after the Wizards dealt them a lopsided defeat on Saturday.

Detroit will try to avoid a fourth straight home loss Monday night against Washington.

The Pistons (14-18) have lost four of five and might not necessarily welcome a return home from a three-game trip considering they've dropped five of six in Detroit and are 6-10 there on the season.

Opponents are shooting 46.8 percent versus Detroit - one of the highest numbers in the league - but that's climbed to 52.7 percent during the last four losses. Washington was 43 for 86 and 9 of 19 from 3-point range in a 106-82 home win over the Pistons on Saturday.

"Our transition defense has been bad. Our interior defense has been bad," said coach Maurice Cheeks, who held a practice Sunday despite coming off a back-to-back. "When you have a team that is shooting well from the three and getting inside the paint, a lot of things are going to give and we need to recover."

Josh Smith was benched for the second half against the Wizards after going 2 for 7 for four points with four rebounds in 18 minutes. He also struggled in Friday's loss at Orlando, finishing with five points on 2-of-13 shooting.

"I just felt like I wanted to make a change and stay with the guys I went with," Cheeks said.

Smith's 15.1 points and 3.2 assists per game both rank second on the team.

"I mean it's unfair because like I told you before, I play the game hard each and every day," Smith said. "When I was younger I played this game free year around. So why wouldn't I want to come out here and put my best foot forward every time I step out?"

After Bradley Beal left with a leg injury in Washington's worst loss of the season Friday at Minnesota, Beal returned Saturday to score 15 points. Ten came in the second quarter when the Wizards (13-14) outscored the Pistons 31-18 on the way to ending a seven-game series skid with their largest margin of victory in 2013-14.

"I woke up this morning feeling good, so I was hopeful that would be a good sign throughout the day," said Beal, whose MRI earlier in the day was negative. "The (doctor) told me it was nothing but a little bone bruise. It's going to take a little bit more than that to keep me from playing. And it didn't hurt tonight, so that's a good thing."

John Wall scored 20 points and had 11 of the team's season-high 34 assists. The Wizards claimed a 46-38 rebounding advantage after giving up a minus-9 margin against the Timberwolves.

"Being aggressive, attacking the basket, being more physical," Wall said. "We got back to our defensive concepts and we protected the rim and got a lot of rebounds."

Trevor Ariza is 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) from 3-point range over his last five games versus Detroit after going 4 for 6 on Saturday.

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