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Wizards Alter the Routine, Result
After Slow Start, A Strong Finish : Wizards 107, Pistons 94

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Wizards were clinging to a four-point lead with just more than two minutes remaining in last night's game against the Detroit Pistons when they came out of a timeout and ran a perfectly executed inbounds play that led to a Darius Songaila layup off of a pass from Juan Dixon.

The play keyed a cathartic 107-94 victory at Verizon Center that snapped a three-game losing streak.

Caron Butler did the heavy lifting with 33 points, but the Wizards (4-15) have lost plenty of games this season when Butler and Antawn Jamison have put up numbers. Last night's victory was a product of a season-high 59 bench points and execution at both ends of the floor.

Songaila's score was the result of some on-the-sideline improvisation between interim coach Ed Tapscott and assistant Wes Unseld Jr.

"That's a play we have in the offense called chin special," Tapscott said. "We called it and I said: 'Wes, are we going to run it out of bounds? And he said we can try because normally it's a half-court set. Wes said we should just run the play right out of bounds and that's exactly what we did. We got the layup on a backdoor cut by Mr. Songaila."

The Pistons (11-9) have lost three straight and dropped to 7-9 since acquiring Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets for longtime point guard Chauncey Billups.

Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 29 points.

Butler, who surpassed 30 points for the fourth time this season, received plenty of help as Jamison (10 points, 11 rebounds) posted his 13th double-double and the bench came up huge.

Songaila scored 15 points and played excellent defense on Rasheed Wallace.

Dixon, who went five straight games without any playing time before taking the floor late in Saturday's loss at Chicago, added 16 points and seven assists and finished with an incredible plus/minus rating of plus 33.

Andray Blatche contributed eight points and five rebounds, Nick Young added nine points and Dominic McGuire earned an ovation after scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and a block during a key fourth-quarter stretch.

The Wizards were outrebounded 49-24 during a 117- 109 loss at Detroit on Nov. 1 but finished with a 39-34 edge on the boards last night.

They also moved the ball well (24 assists) while committing only seven turnovers.

"We're going to need big nights from those guys," Songaila said of Butler and Jamison. "We need them to play well but they need us at the same time. They need us to come off the bench, whoever it is on a given night, and give that support."

The Wizards led 74-68 entering the fourth and built an 80-71 lead with a run that included a Blatche drive-and-dunk over Wallace, a long jumper by McGuire and a McGuire putback dunk off of a miss by Jamison.

The lead was a semi-comfortable 90-80 when the Pistons made their push. Hamilton, Iverson and Tayshaun Prince made layups and Hamilton trimmed the deficit to 92-88 with a 19-foot jumper.

Songaila then scored on the inbounds play and Washington went ahead 96-90 on a pair of Butler free throws at the 1 minute 31 second mark.

When they host the defending champion Boston Celtics tomorrow, the Wizards will try to start their first winning streak.

The last time Washington went this far into a season without consecutive wins was 2000-01 when Coach Leonard Hamilton's squad didn't pull it off until Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.

These Wizards won't have to wait that long if they can replicate last night's effort, one that included an in-game pep talk from Tapscott, who did not like his team's body language and energy level during the first half as Detroit built a 17-point lead.

"I just walked down the bench and said we are better than we are playing and we need to bring more energy to everything we are doing," said Tapscott, who improved to 3-5 since taking over for Eddie Jordan on Nov. 24. "We just have to get ourselves moving and don't panic. When we play with energy and move the ball, all of a sudden we look like a different team."

Wizards Notes: Referees Mike Callahan and Kevin Fehr were forced to work without the third member of their crew after Phil Robinson became ill before the game . . . Former Wizard Kwame Brown has started 12 games for the Pistons this season but did not get off the bench.

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