“We wasn’t ready to play as a team,” Ariza said after scoring a team-high 22 points. “We didn’t play like we’ve been playing and in the NBA, you can’t do that. To lose any game, period, is tough. To get swept is even tougher. Tonight wasn’t a good night for our team.”
Wall gave the Wizards a 62-57 lead when lowered his head and drove to the basket, but Knight scored 10 points during a 21-2 run for the Pistons. After Wall’s botched pass to Okafor (15 points, five rebounds), Wittman called another timeout and replaced Wall with Price, but Knight added a three-pointer to give the Pistons a 78-64 lead.
Okafor finally silenced the run with a dunk, but Calderon fed Maxiell for an alley-oop dunk and the home fans started to boo.
“It’s bizarre to me,” Wittman said. “They didn’t want to be coached. It was more about playing time and shots, rather than: ‘What are we doing as a team? And how am I playing when I’m out there?’ It’s my job to decide who is deserving of playing out there and that’s what I’ll continue to do and that’s the only way I believe. And if you can’t handle that, you don’t agree with it, that’s what you get — a game like tonight. It wasn’t about the team. That’s what’s disappointing.”
Calderon ran the Pistons’ offense with precision, handing out 18 assists and scoring just six points. He had a layup that gave the Pistons a 96-87 lead with 69 seconds remaining. Ariza made two three-pointers, then stole a pass from Calderon. Pistons reserve Will Bynum was called for a clear-path foul, giving the Wizards two free throws and the ball with 12.3 seconds left. Ariza made both free throws and Wittman drew up a play for Bradley Beal (16 points), who drove, then dished out to Martell Webster. Webster batted the ball to Ariza and he rushed a three-pointer than barely touched the net.
“We didn’t do a good job against them at all this year,” Price said of the Pistons. “As a fan of the game, student of the game, they outplayed us. And [Wittman is] right, they outplayed us. He’s right, we didn’t deserve to win, but it would’ve been something if we did win.”