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Wizards host Pistons on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
As part of the NBA’s league-wide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Wizards (13-28) will host the Pistons (16-27) at 2:00 P.M. on Monday. The Wizards and Pistons have already met three times this season – Washington took the first two with Detroit winning in the teams’ last meeting on December 26. None of the three games have been decided by fewer than 14 points.
Capital One Arena | 2:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Gary Payton II, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, C – Ian Mahinmi
Pistons: G – Bruce Brown, G – Derrick Rose, F – Tony Snell, F – Sekou Doumbouya, C – Andre Drummond
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (groin injury – out), Garrison Mathews (sprained right ankle – out), Anzejs Pasecniks (sprained left ankle – out), Moritz Wagner (sprained left ankle – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Pistons: Bruce Brown (right thumb sprain – available), Blake Griffin (left knee surgery – out), Reggie Jackson (left lumber spine stress reaction – out), Luke Kennard (bilateral knee patella tendinitis – out), Khyri Thomas (right foot surgery – out)
Bryant-Mahinmi combo could unlock options for Wizards’ rotation
Thomas Bryant has played in three games since returning from a right foot stress reaction. In the first, Bryant came off the bench in a loss to Utah, scoring eight points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of action. In the last two games against Chicago and Toronto, Bryant moved back to the starting lineup, but in a new role: power forward next to Ian Mahinmi. Both appearances were brief – just 28:50 combined and even less with both of the bigs on the court together – but the combo was one of the more unique experiments Scott Brooks has conducted with this year’s roster.
“It’s been good,” Bryant said. “It’s been different…When I’m with Ian (Mahinmi), I just try to have that big-to-big connection, whether it’s on offense or defense and utilizing what we can do. We’re two bigs that are very skilled around the basket so (we are) trying to get easy buckets when we’re down there. We have a situation where we can switch (with each other) as well to make the job easier on the defensive end.”
Prior to Monday’s game against the Pistons, Brooks announced that back-up center Anzejs Pasecniks would not play due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice on Sunday. With the Wizards already thin on the frontline, Bryant will move back into the bench role he played against Utah, though use of the double-big lineup at some point in the game shouldn’t be ruled out against a team like Detroit. The Pistons frontline of Andre Drummond and rookie Sekou Doumbouya is one of the most physically imposing in the league.
Wizards look to limit turnovers
All season long, the Wizards have done well taking care of the ball, committing just 14.2 turnovers per game, 10th fewest in the league. Friday against Toronto, Washington was uncharacteristically bad in that department, turning the ball over 28 times as a team, just the eighth time since 2000 they have turned the ball over 25 times or more in a game.
“(We) just weren’t strong with it,” Beal said. “…I had a couple myself. Just being strong with it, being more precise with our decision-making and making firmer passes, good passes. A lot of them were throwing lob passes. (Toronto is) a long athletic team. I think the last three teams we’ve played have been like that, so we just have to be better at getting open and making ourselves available and just making the simple pass.”
The Wizards have recorded fewer turnovers than their opponent in 27 of 41 games, an impressive number given the team’s makeup this season: a young, injury-riddled group that plays at one of the fastest paces in the league. In those 14 games in which Washington has recorded more turnovers than its opponent, the team is just 2-12. Washington will undoubtedly put an emphasis on cutting down on the turnovers on Monday, but will have to do so against a Pistons team that ranks third in the league in opponent turnovers per game over their last five games (16.8).
Doumbouya shining in expanded role
Drafted 15th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, Sekou Doumbouya entered the league regarded as a raw, athletic wing capable of playing multiple positions. After seeing limited action with the Pistons early in the season, both as a result of injury and G League assignments, Doumbouya remained a relative unknown to the league until the last few weeks. His role has spiked since the team announced that Blake Griffin (knee) was out indefinitely – and Doumbouya has taken advantage of the opportunity. From October to December, the rookie appeared in just seven games, averaging 1.3 points per game on 36.4% from the field. Since since the beginning of January, he has started all nine of the team’s games and is averaging 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game. Doumbouya became the first Pistons rookie to in team history to record a double-double in each of his first two starts and, on Wednesday, in an impressive win over the Boston Celtics, led the team with a career-high 24 points on 10-13 (.769) shooting. All-NBA center Andre Drummond will still garner most the opposition’s attention, but Doumbouya has proven himself to be a valuable asset on each end of the court.