Using a mostly small lineup, led by the diminutive and crafty Bynum, the Pistons outscored the Wizards, 31-17, with Okafor sidelined and the veteran center was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to contribute.
“I always want to be out there, no matter what game. It just wasn’t there,” Okafor said, matter-of-factly. “It was a tough one. Needed this one, but they outplayed us.”
The Wizards (15-36) are now 0-3 against the Pistons this season but they looked nothing like the team that visited the Pistons on Dec. 22, got slaughtered 100-68, and forced Coach Randy Wittman to apologize to fans and owner Ted Leonsis for the performance.
On that night, the Wizards didn’t have John Wall, Nene, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and A.J. Price, and needed to score five points in the final 90 seconds to avoid setting a new franchise record for fewest points in a game. The Wizards lost in the second meeting, despite the return of Beal and Nene. And with all five of those players back for the third game, the Wizards wanted to finally claim a victory against a team that has controlled them throughout the season.
“Yeah, we wanted to get back. As competitors, you always want to get back at somebody that beat you pretty bad,” Ariza said after the Wizards fell to 1-15 on the road against Eastern Conference opponents. “We let one slip.”
The Wizards led 70-65 after Ariza made two free throws to start the fourth quarter, but the Pistons responded with an 11-0 run sparked by Bynum. Bynum made a driving layup, then found Charlie Villanueva for a three-pointer and reserve Chris Singleton fouled him to set up a rare four-point play. Bynum made another floater and threw a lob to backup center Viacheslav Kravtsov, who dunked to give the Pistons a 76-70 lead.
Nene made a hook, then Ariza had back-to-back layups to quickly tie the score, but Bynum then led another push of 11 unanswered points to put the Wizards away. Singleton fouled him on a long jumper, then he made a pull-up jumper, drove around Wall for layup and found newly acquired point guard Jose Calderon in the corner for a three-pointer. Calderon finished with a game-high 24 points and six three-pointers