The Wizards will try to record a season-high fourth straight win and defeat the Detroit Pistons for the third time this month on Saturday at Verizon Center.
After defeating the Pistons in consecutive games to improve to 14-14 at the end of 2013, the Wizards slid back into a miserable slump in which Coach Randy Wittman called his players “front-runners” and complained of the occasional “selfish” plays. They started January 2-5 and slipped behind the Bulls to sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Since then, the Wizards have won three in a row and rediscovered their offense and now are another win against the Pistons from going above .500 in January for the first time in six years. Over the past three games, the Wizards have shot 52.4 percent from the floor and 45.1 percent from long distance while averaging 27.3 assists and 104 points per game. They have topped triple digits against two of the league’s best defensive teams in Chicago and Miami.
And they have also been able to fend of runs to hold on for victories.
Washington let the Bulls cut a 15-point deficit down to four before winning 102-88. It let Miami chop a 34-point deficit down to nine before winning 114-97. And it survived a game against Chicago that featured 12 lead changes and 11 ties to win 96-93. The Wizards a finding ways to make plays and get wins.
“I think last year we panicked a lot,” Bradley Beal said. “This year we are way more poised, we get a lot more stops down the stretch on defense, and we execute on offense as well. So I think we do a great job of just staying the course and executing when we have the opportunities to.”
While the Wizards have been better offensively, John Wall credited the defense with making the necessary stops to record the wins. They have held three straight opponents below 100 while limiting them to just 44.4 percent shooting. They have also averaged 8.3 steals and 6.7 blocked shots in the past three games.
“I think we’re doing a good job ofstopping people. And it’s all five guys playing defense and trusting our concepts. When it’s one or two guys doing it and we don’t trust our concepts, teams get whatever they want against us,” Wall said. “I think we’re doing a better job. But we just have to keep it going and be more consistent and keep doing it for the rest of the year.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: