Sluggish after halftime, Pistons lose to Wall-less Wizards to snap 3-game win streak
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
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.”