Reporting Byron Kerr
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The Washington Wizards looked as if they were well on their way to snapping the most recent losing skid as they built a 12-point advantage with less than nine minutes left at Verizon Center. But a 12-1 run and a clutch last second jumper by Rodney Stuckey, and the Detroit Pistons stunned 15,911, with a 79-77 come-from-behind win.
This type of deja vu is not what the Wizards wanted to see. Oh no, not again.
Jordan Crawford and John Wall had led the Wizards as they steadily built an early lead in a game that saw both teams struggle to hit shots in the first half, a disjointed 35-30 Washington advantage after 24 minutes.
Even in the late going, recently acquired Brazilian power forward Nene hit a pair of jump hook shots in the final 40 seconds that gave the Wizards a chance to at least send the game into overtime. His last field goal came with five seconds left and evened the game at 77-77.
With no timeouts, Stuckey raced up the court and found an open shot to the right of the key, nailing the 20-foot dagger that snapped the Pistons personal five-game losing streak, their first win on the road since March 14 at Sacramento (124-112).
It is tough to believe the Wizards led 67-55 with 8:49 remaining (largest lead was 13), only to watch as the Pistons finished the game on a 24-10 run.
Stuckey’s clutch three with 55.9 seconds left gave the Pistons the lead 74-73, their first advantage since early in the second quarter (19-18, 9:32).
The Wizards have now lost four straight and have not won a game at home since the March 7 thriller over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Carbon copy of the last two here,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “At some point, we have to get to the point where we get a lead and we don’t play just to play. We are dribbling around. I don’t know what we are running. We just go out and play and all of sudden it is down…to five and you are in a game. When you got teams down in the second half (and the) fourth quarter you got to put them away. We haven’t learned that yet.”
Crawford (20) and Wall combined for 34 points and Kevin Seraphin added 12. Nene, returning from back spasms, finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
The Pistons got 24 from Stuckey and 18 from Tayshaun Prince. They had a 15-8 advantage on the offensive boards, which ballooned to a 23-5 advantage in second chance points, especially late in the game when extra opportunities turned into game changing tap-ins.
Notes: Trevor Booker sat out with right knee tendinitis. The Wizards were 0-for-9 from behind the arc in the first half. Detroit outrebounded the Wizards 49-40. The Pistons and Wizards season series now even at one game apiece. Their final matchup this season is April 5 at Detroit.