The Washington Wizards aren’t far removed from the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but they need a quick turnaround. They will look to end a three-game slide when they open a three-game homestand with a matchup against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
Washington, which also hosts the Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Hornets over the next four nights, has lost 10 of its last 12 games. The Wizards came up empty in a visit to New York over the past week, falling to the Brooklyn Nets once and the Knicks twice.
They were outscored 61-42 in the second half of a 106-102 loss to the Knicks on Thursday.
“I put this one on my shoulders, I’ve got to close the game out,” Washington guard Bradley Beal said. “We were in position to win. We came out with the right focus, right energy … but once halftime crept around, we reverted back to old ways.”
It’s uncertain whether Beal will play on Saturday. He was listed as questionable due to right foot soreness.
Washington has the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 15-28, but with Beal and Russell Westbrook in the backcourt and 10 teams in each conference making the postseason, the playoffs aren’t out of the question. Their hopes would evaporate if they keep falling apart in the second half.
“I thought we had a real physical mindset and in that fourth quarter, we kind of let up and made some critical mistakes,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “When you do that, they make threes.”
The Wizards didn’t make any major moves prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, but they did acquire power forward Daniel Gafford and swingman Chandler Hutchison from Chicago in a three-team deal. Both players could jump right into the rotation.
Brooks is particularly intrigued with Gafford.
“I love his ability to finish at the rim. He’s a big-time lob threat,” he said. “We haven’t had that since I’ve been here. He’s very bouncy around the rim. He’s not looking for jump shots.”
This is the first of three meetings between the Pistons and Wizards in the 2020-21 season. Detroit will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set.
The Pistons nearly upset the Nets for the second time this season but dropped a 113-111 decision at home on Friday.
Detroit shot a season-high 47 free throws but didn’t make enough of them.
“If you miss 13 free throws, that’s very difficult to make up,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We got to the line and put pressure on them. Got to the line 47 times, but you’ve got to knock ’em down. I thought we missed some crucial ones. We’ve just got to make sure we close the deal.”
Shooting guard Hamidou Diallo and point guard Cory Joseph made their Pistons debuts on Friday. Diallo, recently acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, had six points in 19 minutes. Joseph, acquired from Sacramento this week, had nine points and two assists in 18 minutes but failed to get a shot off in time during the team’s last possession.
Casey used 13 players against the Nets. Rookie backup center Isaiah Stewart was ejected in the first half for elbowing former Pistons forward Blake Griffin.
“You can’t be baited into a situation like that,” Casey said. “Hopefully, he learns from it.”
–Field Level Media