Wizards Are Looking for a Repeat Of Earlier Victory Over the Pistons

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 11, 2006

After Wednesday night's loss at Miami, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas looked over a stat sheet detailing the 118-112 defeat.

"We played well, but it takes a perfect game to beat a team like this," Arenas said. "You can't turn the ball over. You have to make your free throws. You have to rebound. You have to do everything right."

The same could be said of beating tonight's opponent, the Detroit Pistons. Detroit (49-11) owns the NBA's best record, has won eight of its last 10 games and will arrive at Verizon Center with possibly the league's best starting five.

However, the Wizards (30-30) can draw confidence from the fact that they are one of the few teams to beat the Pistons this season.

When the teams met at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 25, the Wizards played one of their best all-around games and pulled out a 120-114 double-overtime victory. It wasn't perfect, but the Wizards did jump on the Pistons early, establishing a 17-point first-half lead, and they showed resiliency by overcoming an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

The Wizards made only 36 percent of their shots, but they connected on 10 three-pointers, pulled down 25 offensive rebounds and scored 23 second-chance points.

Washington also drew the Pistons into early foul trouble and made those fouls count by connecting on 38 of 46 free throws. However, the Wizards would not have forced overtime without guard Chucky Atkins, who made four of his six three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

But Atkins now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, so the Wizards are going to have to come up with a different formula to beat the Pistons again.

"I think we can take something from the last game we played, facing a real good Miami team in Miami, a team with two phenomenal players in Shaq and [Dwyane] Wade and putting ourselves in a position to win the game," said Wizards forward Caron Butler, who scored 27 points in the Nov. 25 win over Detroit. "We played good basketball and now we're coming home against the best team in the league. We have to go out there with a lot of energy. It's a big game for us."

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