Wizards run away from Pistons

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards used a physical brand of basketball to fend off a power-packed arch nemesis. Having guard Bradley Beal sinking shots, not to mention available, helped as well.
Wizards point guard John Wall had 20 points and 11 assists and center Marcin Gortat scored 16 points as Washington turned a dominant first half into a 106-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
Beal started and scored 15 points for the Wizards (13-14), one night after having to be carried off the court with a knee injury in a 120-98 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coming off its worst loss of the season, Washington produced its largest margin of victory against a Detroit squad that played without forward Josh Smith in the second half. The Wizards never trailed and closed the first half on a 20-4 run for a 62-41 halftime lead.
Wall scored 18 points in the first half as Washington shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the first two quarters.
"We got back a little bit of our identity that I thought we lost last night coming out of the Christmas break," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "I thought we right from the jump ball took the fight to them in a physical manner that we didn't at all last night."
An MRI on Saturday revealed Beal suffered a bruised knee during a collision in the final minutes of the loss at Minnesota.
"The doc told me it was nothing but a little bone bruise," Washington's second leading scorer said of the knee that worried the D.C. area overnight. "It's going to take a little bit more than that to keep me from playing. It didn't hurt at all tonight, so that's a good thing."
Forward Greg Monroe scored 14 points and guard Brandon Jennings had 13 for the Pistons (14-18), who matched their season high with 23 turnovers and shot 40.3 percent from the field.
The Pistons have lost four of five games. The two sides wrap up the home-and-away scenario on Monday night in Detroit.
Smith scored four points during 18 first-half minutes but never took off his warm-ups after halftime.
"I mean, it's unfair because like I told you before, I play the game hard each and every day," Smith told reporters when asked if he felt singled out.
"I mean I'm in a gracious opportunity just to be able to play my dream. When I was younger, I played this game for free year-around. This is what I love to do. so why wouldn't I want to come out here and try to put my best before the team every time I step out on the court."
Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks simply stated he "wanted to make a change." Pressed several times for more thoughts about sitting the team's highest paid player, Cheeks grew irritated.
"I know, but it's still a game," Cheeks said. "This isn't a Josh Smith interview, I didn't think it was. It wasn't just Josh Smith. We didn't get beat like that because of Josh Smith."
Swingman Trevor Ariza had 15 points and forward Trevor Booker 10 as all five Washington starters scored in double figures. Ariza made 4 of 6 3-pointers as the Wizards finished 9 of 19 from beyond the arc.
Beal missed his first three shots. He found his touch late in first half, making four straight, including two 3-pointers during the second-quarter run that Wall capped with a reverse dunk.
"Those were two great finds by John," Beal said. "It just shows his IQ and the connection that we both have. He got me going."
The 62 points were the most by Washington in a first half this season. Detroit went without a point for the final 4:53 of the second quarter before the crowd of 19,336.
The Pistons' sizable frontcourt had proved challenging for the Wizards in previous matchups. In a season-opening 113-102 win at home, Detroit outrebounded Washington and scored 56 points in the paint.
In the rematch, Washington won the battle of the boards 46-38 and equalized Detroit's interior production.
Wall established a career high by scoring at least 20 points in six straight games. His chance for seven comes against the same Pistons squad on Monday.
"They're gonna try to make a statement and take care of home-court advantage like we tried to do here," Wall said.
NOTES: Wizards PF Nene came off the bench for the fourth straight game since returning from a foot injury. ... Josh Harrellson and Will Bynum each scored 10 points off the bench for Detroit. ... At 8-7, Detroit entered as one of eight NBA teams with winning road records. ... F Jan Vesely's dunk gave Washington its largest lead at 90-62 early in the fourth quarter. He fouled out after just nine minutes of action. ...The Wizards honored the late Nelson Mandela during a pregame ceremony. Team owner Ted Leonsis, Wall and Monroe presented gifts to Swati and Zaziwe Mandela, the granddaughters of the former South African president. Washington, D.C., mayor Vincent Gray also attended.

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