WASHINGTON — Josh Smith and Rodney Stuckey kept the Washington Wizards from their first winning record in more than four years.
Smith overcame a slow start to score 22 points and Rodney Stuckey added 20 as the Pistons beat the Wizards 104-98 on Saturday night.
It was the third time this year Washington lost at home with a chance to get over the .500 mark. The Wizards last had a winning record when they started the 2008-09 season at 2-1.
“Somebody just needs to not tell us our record and we’ll just go out and play,” Washington guard Bradley Beal said. “Every time they tell us ‘.500,’ we just pressure ourselves too much and end up not showing up.”
Beal was among the guilty, hitting 2 of 14 shots and scoring a season-low seven points, leaving John Wall to carry the load.
The Wizards’ point guard scored 34 points on 15 of 23 shooting and had six assists. Wall had Washington’s last 10 points, as he was the only Wizards player to score in the final 6 minutes.
Detroit answered Wall’s brilliance with balance. Greg Monroe had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Andre Drummond added 10 points and a game-high 13 boards as the Pistons outrebounded the Wizards 44-35.
Brandon Jennings had 14 points and eight assists, and Kyle Singler added 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench.
“I thought our second unit was the reason why we got back in the game,” Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Our second unit came in and kind of changed the game.”
Stuckey was instrumental early and late. The score was tied at 88-all when Wizards forward Nene hit two free throws with 6 minutes left. But Stuckey followed with a three-point play as the Pistons took the lead for good. Stuckey added two free throws and his jumper with 2:23 left put Detroit in charge, 97-90. Washington got no closer than three after that.
The Wizards hit 10 of their first 15 shots and sprinted to a 26-16 lead. However, Detroit held Washington without a field goal in a 5:35 span of the second quarter and Stuckey scored eight points in a 16-3 run.
“I just go in there and try to do what I do and try to change the game,” Stuckey said. “That’s what we did tonight, the bench players. We came in and did a good job of changing the game.”
Reserve guard Will Bynum also played a role, scoring seven points and dealing six assists. His three-point-play early in the fourth quarter gave Detroit its biggest lead to that point, 84-78. Cheeks played only three of his reserves, but they combined to hit 16 of 28 shots, scoring 41 points.
It was a tale of two halves for Smith, who went 0 for 6 from the field in the first two quarters and then scored 20 in the second half. He also had eight boards for the NBA’s top rebounding squad.
Washington pushed its edge to 12 early in the third quarter. Smith then scored 12 points in the period to help Detroit move back ahead, 79-76.
“Stuckey and Smith really hurt us in the second half,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “I think Smith went for 20 and we had a tough matchup there the whole night.”
Martell Webster had 15 points and Marcin Gortat added 10 points and 12 rebounds for Washington, which will play its next two at home in an effort to achieve the elusive winning record.
“It’s crazy, we’re trying to get over that hump,” Webster said. “That’s the thing about this league, it gives you 82 chances.”
NOTES: Washington reserve Trevor Booker went to the locker room early in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and didn’t return. … After sitting out the last two games, Jan Vesely was pressed into service and gave the Wizards a lift in the second quarter with six of his seven points. He also hit his first free throw since Dec. 2 ending a streak of 14 misses. … Washington had reached the .500 mark two other times this season, but followed with losing streaks of four and three games, with only one of those games away from Verizon Center. … The teams split the four-game season series. Detroit hasn’t lost a series to Washington since 2005-06.
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