Sluggish after halftime, Pistons lose to Wall-less Wizards to snap 3-game win streak

Andre Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds but the Pistons couldn’t keep up on the glass and had their 3-game win streak snapped by Washington
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

WASHINGTON – If you want one play to define a forgettable night for the Pistons, buzz through the first 38 minutes of the game and settle on a Washington possession early in the fourth quarter.

The Pistons, down 12 but still on the fringe of contention, forced a 3-point shot from a mediocre perimeter shooter, Kelly Oubre. It missed. Wizards point guard Tomas Satoransky – playing only because All-Star John Wall was out – walked right to the front of the rim, grabbed a rebound, put it in and drew a foul.

Standing around was the story of the night, especially the second half.

“They tried really, really hard and we didn’t try at all,” Stan Van Gundy said after the 109-91 loss to Washington that featured a 17-0 Wizards run to open the third quarter and change the game. “We got outworked. Really disappointing and embarrassing night for us. We just didn’t bring anything in the second half at either end.”

Andre Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds, which was more than half the Pistons total (32) and more than four times what the four other starters combined (four) recorded. Washington held a 17-rebound advantage. The Wizards grabbed 16 offensive rebounds to four – four – for the Pistons.

“Not only did they keep us from doing it, they went and got those opportunities and put-backs,” said Anthony Tolliver, who had five boards, or three more than any teammate not named Andre Drummond. “It’s very deflating as a defender. You work so hard to get a stop and then they go get the rebound and put it back in.”

Van Gundy mused earlier this week – after Monday’s win at Boston, when the Pistons scored 118 points against a Celtics defense that has been No. 1 in the NBA virtually all season – that the motion offense he installed in training camp required high energy and constant motion. That was nowhere to be found after halftime. In the first four-plus minutes of the third quarter, Van Gundy burned two timeouts as the Pistons missed their first six shots and committed four turnovers in a nine-possession span that dug an 11-point hold and obliterated a six-point halftime lead.

“Turnovers on our part and hard play on their part,” was Reggie Jackson’s summary. “We weren’t able to even get a look for constant possessions and they were just able to get anything they wanted. It was really about who hit first and that’s how they came out. They came out attacking.”

“We didn’t get enough movement, but you’ve got to give them 100 percent credit,” Ish Smith said. “They were all over the place. For us – movement, passing, cutting. We were still doing it, but it was kind of going through the motions. We’ve got to get better with that.”

Van Gundy pulled three starters, leaving Drummond and Avery Bradley on the floor, after the second timeout, bringing Tolliver, Smith and Luke Kennard into the game. They managed to whittle the deficit to eight on a few occasions and had a chance to get it back to eight again entering the fourth quarter when Smith was fouled on a 3-point attempt on the last possession.

But instead of cutting it to eight, the deficit swelled to 14 when Smith missed all three free throws, Drummond was called for a foul trying to rebound the third miss and then drew a technical that gave the Wizards three foul shots.

“I’m a little frustrated because of the way I played,” Smith said. “I’ve got to play better, bring a little more of a spark, do something to kind of kill that little fire they had done and I didn’t do a good job of that.”

“We got a break. Ish got fouled on a three, misses all three, then we get a technical,” Van Gundy said. “That was a huge point, too. But, look, we can go to turning points but there was never a stretch in the second half where we played anywhere near as hard as they did. So you were just hoping they’d miss some shots and we’d throw some in. There was never a time we competed the way they competed. So you deserve to lose.”

FAST BREAKDOWN

Three quick observations from Friday night’s 109-91 loss to the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena

1-HALFTIME HANGOVER – The Pistons played about five great minutes of basketball. When the bench had nothing going to start the second quarter and fell behind 38-31 – scoring five points in five minutes – Stan Van Gundy went back to his starters. They went on a 16-2 run to give the Pistons a seven-point lead. They led by six at halftime. Then Washington’s starters had an even better five minutes to open the second half. It was a 17-0 run in which the Pistons shot 0 of 6, turned the ball over four times in nine possessions and forced Stan Van Gundy to call two timeouts. They cut it to eight a few times in the third quarter, but never got it under double digits in the fourth quarter. Other than those lousy first five minutes to open the second half, the biggest issue for the Pistons was their rebounding. Washington – playing without John Wall – dominated the boards, 49-32. Andre Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds – to go with 14 points, seven assists, four blocked shots and a steal – but he sure didn’t get a lot of help. The rest of the starters combined for four boards. Anthony Tolliver added five rebounds. The Pistons have now lost seven straight games at Capital One Arena, their last win coming in January 2014 when Maurice Cheeks was their coach.

2-3-POINT CLIP UP – The Pistons have become one of the NBA’s top 3-point shooting teams, ranking No. 3 in accuracy (39.1 percent) through the first 20 games, while increasing their volume over a year ago when they took 26 a game and ranked 26th in attempts. They’re taking 29.1 a game this season, 17th in the league, and topped that against the Wizards by taking 30 from the 3-point arc, though they made only nine. The Pistons have taken one-third of their shots this season from the arc, but took exactly half of their shots (19 of 38) in the first half from the 3-point line. They were on pace to establish a new single-game high this season, but tailed off after halftime. The Pistons have twice shot 37 triples in a game this season. Of the 10 Pistons to play in the first half, eight took a 3-pointer – even Andre Drummond, who took a half-court shot to end the first half.

3-DROPPIN’ DIMES – Andre Drummond picked up seven more assists against the Wizards and if there’s any Pistons player almost certain to set a new career high in any statistical category, it’s Drummond establishing a new benchmark for assists. He’s now just nine shy of his career best of 90, set last season. Drummond picked up five assists in the first quarter and had six by halftime, then added just one more as Washington started overplaying his dribble handoffs in the third quarter and that disrupted the
Pistons offense as much as anything. Not only is Drummond averaging about four more assists per game than he’s averaged for his career (0.9), but his rate is picking up. After averaging 2.8 over the first 11 games, Drummond came into Washington averaging 4.8 over the past nine games and 3.7 for the season. That makes three times in the past 12 games with seven assists. Drummond has 20 assists in the past three games.

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