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Wizards' stout defense stifles Pistons in 101-87 win
In their first game since returning from a victorious trip to London, the Wizards didn’t show any signs of jet lag. Washington jumped out to an early double-digit lead against the visiting Pistons and didn’t look back, notching a 101-87 win in the annual Martin Luther King Day matinee at Capital One Arena. With the win, the Wizards have now won four of their last five as they inch closer to playoff position.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing," said Bradley Beal on getting to play in D.C. on MLK Day. "We continue to keep the streak going. We have a tough team coming in later this week. We just have to continue to build off of it. But it’s a spectacular day. Remembering MLK and what he stood for and the legacy he left for us all today. It feels even better to get a win.”
Washington controlled the game from the outset Monday, using a big 19-4 run early in the first quarter to jump out to a double-digit lead after just one frame. Six players recorded multiple buckets in the opening quarter as the Wizards won in almost every aspect on the afternoon. For the game, seven reached double-figures with Trevor Ariza (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Otto Porter Jr. 19 points leading the way. Bradley Beal added 16, while Sam Dekker, Jeff Green, and Thomas Bryant (12 rebounds) tallied 11 points.
More of the same continued before the half, with the Wizards’ defense turning in its best effort of the season. Washington held the Pistons to just 34 points in the opening half and led by as many as 20 before leading by 16 at the break. Detroit’s 87 points on the day marked a season-low for Washington opponents as Blake Griffin (29 points) and Reggie Bullock (11 points) were the Pistons’ only double-figure scorers.
"I thought the defense was outstanding on all parts of the game," said head coach Scott Brooks. "We got into the ball, we did a great job of pick and rolls. We rebounded the ball. We’re really good…we give ourselves a chance to win every night if we can win the rebounding game."
“Our defense, overall, has just been better," added Jeff Green. "We’ve been communicating and not allowing teams to get a lot of offensive rebounds, forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. We’ve been on the same page defensively, which is allowing us to get out in transition.”
The third quarter started sluggish for Washington with too many turnovers (seven for the period) , and the Pistons had their chance to cut into the lead. The biggest reason they didn’t get any closer than down 10 was Ariza, who scored half of his points in the frame. Beal also chipped in nine in the third. The pair keyed an important 10-3 run late in the period to return the lead to 17 points where it stood entering the fourth quarter.
Ariza’s leading effort on both ends helped the Wizards dominate in the paint, taking advantage of Andre Drummond’s absense (concussion) to win 46-32 in paint scoring and edge Detroit in rebounding, 45-40. The Pistons only recorded two offensive rebounds on the afternoon.
"I think (Ariza) has challenged himself to move around a little bit, not just space the floor," said Brooks. "That's sometimes part of the offense, to space in the floor. But he's a rebounder, he's a defender and he's a great locker room guy."
A strong start to the fourth helped prevent the Pistons’ last charge from making much of a dent. Detroit cut the Washington lead to 12 with just over three minutes remaining after trailing by as many as 24, but didn’t have the firepower left to sustain the run to the end of the game.
The defending NBA champions are up next for the Wizards as the Warriors make their lone visit to D.C. on Thursday night. Tip-off against Golden State is set for 8:00 P.M. ET.