Wizards Can't Derail the Pistons' Express

Pistons 106, Wizards 93

Tayshaun Prince, left, is fouled by the Wizards' Brendan Haywood during Detroit's 10th consecutive victory. Seven Pistons scored in double figures.
Tayshaun Prince, left, is fouled by the Wizards' Brendan Haywood during Detroit's 10th consecutive victory. Seven Pistons scored in double figures. (John Mcdonnell - The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 3, 2008; Page E01

The Washington Wizards were hovering within striking distance of the Detroit Pistons at Verizon Center last night when Pistons forward Jason Maxiell closed the third quarter by rebounding a missed shot by teammate Tayshaun Prince. In one motion, the powerful Maxiell threw down a thunderous dunk.

Detroit's Rasheed Wallace celebrated by thrusting his fist in the air, and the Pistons were on their way to a 10th straight win. The Wizards never threatened in the fourth quarter en route to a 106-93 loss.

While the Wizards (15-15) continue to reinvent themselves in the absence of all-star Gilbert Arenas, the Pistons (25-7) play with a crispness and a swagger associated with teams with championship aspirations.

In improving to 17-2 against Eastern Conference opponents, the Pistons had seven players score in double figures, shot 48.7 percent and answered any push by the Wizards with a decisive run that included plays like the dunk by Maxiell, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Detroit's bench, which is among the deepest and most talented in the league, outscored Washington's bench, 33-8.

The Wizards hoped to get a boost from the return of guard Antonio Daniels, who missed seven games with a sprained ligament in his right knee. Daniels did his part, finishing with 18 points in 36 minutes.

Caron Butler had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for the Wizards and Antawn Jamison finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Washington, however, was no match for Detroit's balance, depth and timely playmaking. The Pistons won their previous nine games by an average of 17.2 points.

The Wizards dropped to 9-7 at home and still have only four victories against teams that currently have winning records.

The Wizards led, 27-26, after one quarter but the game's flow changed noticeably when Pistons Coach Flip Saunders started turning to his reserves early in the second period.

Former Wizard Jarvis Hayes made a three-pointer from the corner as part of a 10-0 Pistons run that included a layup by Maxiell and a layup by rookie guard Rodney Stuckey.

Detroit outscored the Wizards 31-20 in the second period with 13 of the points coming from reserves and took a 57-47 halftime lead.

Hayessigned with the Pistons over the summer after four seasons with the Wizards. He was in a cheerful mood as he greeted former teammates, but received a rude welcome on the court shortly after checking into the game in the second quarter.

Hayes was about to finish a fast break with a one-handed dunk when Wizards forward Andray Blatche came up from behind and got his hand on the shot but made contact with Hayes, who landed hard on his back.

A flagrant foul was called on Blatche, but Hayes shook it off and continued playing. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting with nine of the points coming in the fourth quarter as the Pistons put the game away.

Wizards Notes: The teams meet twice more this season, March 23 at Verizon Center and April 11 at Detroit. . . .

Saunders was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for December yesterday. The Pistons went 15-2 during the month. . . .

Hayes is one of several former Wizards-Bullets to play for Detroit in recent seasons. Current Pistons Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace were drafted by Washington and Ben Wallace, Darvin Ham and Chris Webber have also played for Detroit in recent years.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company