Wittman’s point guard was busy throwing passes to the wrong team. His starting front court was ineffective. And his team trailed by 16 points late in the third quarter against a team that arrived at Verizon Center on three-game losing streak. Still, despite those shortcomings, Ariza went on an improbable, one-man run and scored eight points in 49 seconds to put his team in position to win. But his final shot attempt came up short and the Wizards walked off the court, dejected and despondent.
“It didn’t boil down to that,” Wittman said of Ariza’s shot. “We got what we deserved. We didn’t deserve to win that game. We were more caught up in ourselves as individuals than the team. That’s the bottom line. We got guys that haven’t been in the rotation, complaining. The older guys trying to help them, they won’t listen. And that just tells me: ‘I’m worried about myself. I’m not worried about winning this game.’ ”
The Wizards (18-38) had their three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the fourth time this season — and sixth consecutive game overall — to the Pistons. They knew before tip-off that they wouldn’t have Nene on their side, but as the game unfolded, they realized that they would also have to find a way to do it without John Wall playing at his best.
Mired in a recent shooting slump, Wall made several careless passes and the offense was stagnant with him running the show. He finished with just six points on 3-for-9 shooting, committed seven turnovers and was outplayed by his backup, A.J. Price, who led the team with eight assists and scored nine points.
Wall has struggled from the floor in his past six games, shooting just 30.8 percent (20 for 65) from the floor. In three of the five games, since the all-star break, Wall has committed at least six turnovers. After the loss to Detroit, Wall said he didn’t have any problems with his left knee or any other health concerns.
“No health at all, just trying to play basketball and do my best to help my team win,” Wall said.
Assistant coach Don Newman spent considerable time speaking to Wall as he tied up his shorts and adjusted his knee pads in preparation for the start of the second half. Wall nodded and assistant Jerry Sichting patted him on the back.
But the pep talk didn’t go very far, because 30 seconds into the third period, Wall drove into the lane and had the ball poked away by Pistons forward Jason Maxiell. His final turnover came later in the period, when he drove inside and threw a pass that was too fast for Emeka Okafor, leading to a layup by Pistons point guard Brandon Knight on the end.