WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Wizards faced off against the visiting Detroit Pistons in an afternoon matchup on Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the nation’s capitol and honored the Civil Right leader with a victory.Despite the early tipoff, both teams came out of the gate hot from the field, combining to make seven of their first seven field goal attempts. The Wizards were 4-4 and led 12-8 at the first timeout. Detroit blinked first when Sekou Doumbouya missed a 26-foot three pointer with 8:32 left in the 1st quarter. The first Washington miss came about a minute later when Bradley Beal missed a pull up jumper from 16-feet out, showcasing the death of the mid-range jumper at the NBA level with 7:45 left in the quarter. The Wizards relinquished their lead for the first time when former Kansas Jayhawk sharpshooter, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, made a layup to tie the game at 22-all with 4:28 to go in the first. The home team fell behind for the first time 27-seconds later when Derrick Rose’s layup made it 24-22. That layup gave Rose 11 early points to pace all scorers, with Beal a close second at 10. After trailing 8-2, Detroit went on a 33-22 run to end the quarter, but thanks to a 30-foot buzzer beater from Troy Brown, Jr, the Wizards only trailed 35-30 heading into the 2nd quarter.
Ish Smith scored all 7 of his first half points in the early minutes of the second quarter and helped the bench keep the Wizards in the game. Beal reentered the game with just over 8 minutes left before halftime and Washington trailing 46-39. He assisted on or scored 11 of the Wizards’ next 16 points as they regained the lead, 55-54, with 2:59 left in the half and the star guard had 16 points. After falling back behind 58-55, Thomas Bryant’s 3-pointer tied the game at 58-all and his layup, on another Beal assist, gave them a 60-58 lead with just over a minute to go before halftime. Detroit then turned the ball over twice and missed a 3-pointer in the final minute to allow Washington to take that 60-58 into the half. Washington had gone on a 21-12 run over the final 8+ minutes of the half to outscore Detroit 30-23 in the 2nd quarter and Beal had assisted on or scored 13 of those 21 points in that run.
Early in the 3rd quarter, the Pistons again tied the score at 64 before back to back Gary Payton II steals along with a defensive rebound led to a quick regaining of the lead at 70-64. Detroit then called a timeout to regroup with 7:19 to go in the 3rd. The Wizards found themselves tied with the Pistons again with just over 3 minutes left before Bradley Beal’s step back 17-footer made it 80-78. Coming out of their timeout with 2:42 left in the quarter, Troy Brown Jr nailed a 24-footer to extend the Washington lead to 83-78. When the dust settled from the defensive 3rd quarter the Wizards remained on top by their halftime lead of two points. Both teams score just 23 points each, but it was Washington that took the lead to the final quarter of regulation, 83-81.
Derrick Rose’s layup on Detroit’s first possession of the 4th quarter tied the game at 83-all and once again Washington was forced to answer the bell. Svi Mykahiliuk’s dunk gave Detroit their first lead since the 2nd quarter but Mahinimi made a rare 3 pointer to put the Wizards back up 86-85. Davis Bertans 3 pointer then gave Washington another lead, 89-87, with 9:02 left in regulation after Derrick Rose had put the Pistons back up a minute earlier. That Bertans 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 Wizards run that included a Jordan McRae dunk and a Mahinmi 2-footer that built a 93-87 lead and forced a Detroit timeout with 7:53 to play. The basket that gave Washington 93 points, gave Mahinmi 19 points to that point. Once again, the Wizards had answered the Detroit bell. Not only that, but they answered with Beal resting on the bench. He reentered with 7:06 to play and the Wizards leading 95-87 after an 11-0 run that was capped by Bertans’ free throws. Those free throws followed his being fouled by Markieff Morris when he basically grabbed Bertans’ face, leading to Morris’ ejection from the game. The Latvian Laser appeared to set his sights on retaliating against Morris before a referee stepped in.
Morris’ ejection looked to mark the end of Detroit’s threat as Beal and the Wizards seemed to take over from there. However, sloppy play down the stretch allowed the Pistons to claw their way back to within 4 points in the final minute before a Beal 20-footer gave the Wizards a six point advantage with 35.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Washington hung on down the stretch and took the MLK Day contest by a final score of 106 to 100. Beal finished the contest with a game high 29 points while Mahinmi tallied 21.
The Wizards improved to 14-28 with the victory and end their 3-game skid. The victory was also Washington’s 3rd in 4 games against Detroit this season and today’s game marked the first one decided by fewer than 14 points. This was an important victory for the Wizards as they do not play at home again until January 30 when they host the Charlotte Hornets. Washington next plays Wednesday night against the Heat in Miami at 7:30 eastern.