Wizards-Pistons instant analysis

Wizards-Pistons instant analysis
February 27, 2013, 8:45 pm
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For most of the game Wednesday, it looked like the Wizards who opened the season with 12 consecutive losses. They started badly, regained the lead at the half and disappeared in the third quarter en route to a 96-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons at Verizon Center. The defeat ended a three-game winning streak and gave Detroit (23-37) a four-game season sweep of Washington. The Wizards (18-38) fought back, however, and almost pulled off an improbable comeback. 

Player of the game: Trevor Ariza came off the bench to spearhead the comeback, going 7-for-13 for 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot. Ariza missed what would've been the game-winning shot at the buzzer, but his play in the last two minutes put the Wizards in position to have a chance.  They trailed 96-87 with 1:06 remaining. Ariza nailed two three-point shots, got a steal and made both free throws on the foul call. The officials ruled it a clear-path foul to the basket on Pistons G Will Bynum, so the Wizards also had the ball for the final shot with 12.3 seconds left. Ariza's shot grazed the side of the basket and never had a chance to go in. 

The rundown: The Wizards had no answer for Brandon Knight or Greg Monroe, who combined to shoot 23-for-35 for 58 points for Detroit. They sparked a 31-13 fourth-quarter to spot the Pistons an 82-68 lead entering the fourth and held off a late rally. Wizards coach Randy Wittman said earlier in the week that he wouldn't hesitate to go with the hot hands and sit his starters. He did just that was Wall played only 24 minutes, which mean mostly the reserves who led comebacks from double-digit deficits in the second and fourth quarters.

Turning point: Trailing 39-29 in the second quarter, the Wizards were led from behind by A.J. Price, Ariza, Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster. Emeka Okafor replaced Seraphin and the Wizards didn't miss a beat as they went into the half leading 55-51. But the Pistons came out determined in the third by making 13 of 19 shots, getting back on top and leading by as many as 16 points. 

Trending upward: The bench did its job for Washington, with Ariza, Price, Singleton and Serpahin combining to shoot 19-for-38 for 49 points. ... Rookie SG Bradley Beal continued to shoot well, going 8-for-16 for 16 points. 

Trending downward: Wall got off to a bad start and reverted to bad habits. He had four turnovers in the first quarter alone, finishing with seven for the game.  During a four-game stretch earlier this month, Wall had 23 turnovers. … The transition defense of the Wizards was sub-par at best, allowing the Pistons to convert 10 of 11 shots in the paint in the first quarter alone. They shot 60% in the first half and finished 39 of 72, or 54.2%, for the game.

Notable numbers: Knight had a career-high 32 points on 11-for-18 shooting. ... Seraphin, who had fallen out of the rotation, received more minutes because of Nene's injury. He had 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting. ... Wall had only four assists. ... Pistons PG Jose Calderon had just six points but dished out 18 assists. 

Who’s next: Friday vs. New York Knicks, 7, and Sunday vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6. Both games on CSN.