Insult and injury: Pistons lose at Washington as hot shooting hits the skids
WASHINGTON – A lost tooth, a stubbed toe, a bruised psyche.
That’s the updated Pistons injury report, which is where virtually everything begins and ends for them this season. It was Andre Drummond who lost the tooth and Markieff Morris who suffered a painful jammed big toe on his right foot.
The bruised psyche was a shared malady. After two brilliant offensive games and a promising 35-point opening quarter, it spiraled downward for the Pistons in a 106-100 loss at Washington.
The last time the Pistons won at Washington was six years and two days ago. Drummond is the only remaining player from that 2013-14 roster and he had one more tooth then than he left with this time around after taking an elbow to the face with 15 seconds left, adding injury to insult; no foul was called on the play.
Morris suffered a similar ignominy, getting ejected after being injured when his foul on Washington’s Davis Bertans in the fourth quarter was a flagrant-2.
“Kieff was probably warranted to be tossed out,” Dwane Casey said. “He hit the guy in the head. But Drummond got hit in the head, also. That’s the only thing I was telling the officials was consistency. Real time, I’m sure it’s so fast they didn’t see it but he didn’t hit himself in the nose.”
Drummond suffered a nasty gash inside of his mouth that required sutures to repair. His lip was angry and puffy after the game.
It was a sour end to a three-game stretch of road games that saw the Pistons perform brilliantly in lopsided wins at Boston and Atlanta. They shot nearly 60 percent cumulatively in those games and got terrific play from a number of players, including Morris, Derrick Rose and Svi Mykhailiuk. Those three hit 54 of 74 shots over the two games. This time around, they combined to make 15 of 42.
After shooting 67 percent in the first quarter, the Pistons shot 35 percent thereafter and 33 percent in the second half. They scored 65 points in the final three quarters.
Yet Rose – who led the Pistons with 21 points on 8 of 21 shooting – thought the game was lost at the other end.
“We lost this game defensively,” Rose said. “Second half, we just let them get anywhere on the court they wanted. Turned the ball over. It was all defense, I felt like, tonight.”
Yet the Pistons held Washington, the NBA’s No. 5 scoring offense, more than six points under its 114.3 average and to just 46 second-half points. And while the Pistons had a turnover problem – 17 of them leading to 22 Washington points – the Wizards were even more reckless, committing 20 turnovers for 27 Pistons points.
“We rushed a lot,” said Morris, who at least managed to return after halftime after limping to the locker room late in the second quarter. “We were so hot in the couple of games before, I just felt like we thought everything was going to fall. We had some opportunities to make some extra passes and we didn’t. They did a great job of pushing the ball down the court. (Ian) Mahinmi did a great job of protecting the rim and rebounding.”
The Wizards got 29 points from Bradley Beal, who passed legend Wes Unseld to move into third place on the franchise’s career scoring list, but it was the less expected output from centers Ian Mahinmi and Thomas Bryant that were more damaging. Mahinmi finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and Bryant with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.
“He killed us,” Casey said of the 14-year journeyman Mahinmi. “He really worked us. I had Ian in Dallas so I know, 21 points, that’s a big night. He’s really improved his offensive game, but he’s so smart as a defender. He knows the angles, he knows how to cut plays off, he knows how to protect the rim. Mahinmi was the difference in the game.”
Washington improved to 14-28 with its win with three of the 14 wins coming against the Pistons, taking the season series 3-1 and preventing them from stringing together their season’s first three-game winning streak. It looked like the momentum their offense had generated over their two-game streak would carry over to Washington … until it didn’t.
“Washington’s defense (was responsible) a little bit,” Casey said. “Their switching, their length. But we missed some easy shots – that’s going to happen – and I thought we got out of character and turned it over and didn’t move the ball the way we did in the first quarter. Second half, the ball stopped moving and some of that was missed shots. We can’t get bored with moving the basketball, attacking the paint, kickouts, playing inside-out – all those things where the shooters can get a rhythm.”