DETROIT (AP) — There’s no trophy for beating a slumping team like the Washington Wizards in late December.
For Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons, though, Wednesday night’s victory felt like a big deal.
After losing nine of 11, the Pistons went on a 23-2 run to start the second half and held on to beat Washington 106-95.
“That game was pretty close to a must win, just for the sake of our morale and righting the ship,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We came out with focus and energy in the third quarter, and that meant we weren’t fighting from behind down the stretch.”
The Pistons didn’t make it easy on themselves, turning the ball over 24 times for 26 Washington points.
The Wizards trailed by 22 but got as close as three in the fourth quarter, including one possession where Trevor Ariza missed a tying 3-point attempt.
“I think we turned the ball over 12 times in the fourth quarter, and that’s obviously not acceptable,” Casey said. “Luckily, we had enough of a cushion to survive taking our foot off the gas pedal, but we’ll be using those as teaching moments.”
Griffin had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Andre Drummond got his 10th straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“When you turn the ball over 24 times, you know you can do a much better job,” Griffin said. “They are aggressive in the passing lanes, but there are also things we can control better than we have.”
Two lesser-known Pistons played key roles.
Casey took Luke Kennard out of the lineup and replaced him with defensive-specialist Bruce Brown, using the rookie against both Bradley Beal and John Wall. Langston Galloway stayed in his usual role providing offense off the bench, while Kennard didn’t play. Galloway finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
The Wizards lost for the eighth time in 10 games and are 4-16 on the road. Wall had 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Beal scored 21 points.
“We just had four really bad minutes of basketball,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “When you are struggling on the road, you have to play all 48 minutes.”
The Pistons struggled early on the defensive end, allowing Washington to shoot 57.9 percent in the first half. They stayed in the game from the 3-point line. Detroit came into the game ranked 28th in 3-point percentage but hit 12 of its first 23 attempts.
The last four came in the third quarter at the same time the Wizards were missing seven of their first eight shots in the second half. That allowed Detroit to take a 77-57 lead, but Washington began to force turnovers.
Washington narrowed the gap to 85-72 at quarter’s end and was within nine with 8:56 to play, aided by the Pistons missing 11 of their next 12 3-point attempts.
Ariza hit a 3-pointer to make it 94-91 with 5:33 to play but missed another on the next possession. He was 5 for 8 from deep in the second half after not scoring a point in the first two quarters.
Drummond, the second-worst free-throw shooter in NBA history, hit two with 2:32 left to give the Pistons a 100-93 advantage.
Wizards: Washington came into the game averaging 113.2 points a game and were on pace to match that until their 17-point third quarter. … Wall and Ian Mahinmi, along with Drummond, picked up technical fouls for “hostile acts” in the third quarter. Markieff Morris got one for arguing a call in the first half.
Pistons: Drummond’s double-double streak is the longest active run in the league. … Detroit leads the league in opponent 3-point percentage and held Washington to 27.3 percent.
Wizards: Host the Chicago Bulls on Friday
Pistons: Visit the Indiana Pacers on Friday
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