Pistons 87, Wizards 82
Following the Washington Wizards' 87-82 loss to the Detroit Pistons last night before a sellout crowd of 20,173 at MCI Center, things turned sour.
Players questioned each other and they questioned strategy. Coach Doug Collins gave yet another set of exasperated answers as to why this team that seems too good to struggle can't seem to get it together. The Wizards had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter to waste another chance at victory.
"It's something of everything," said Wizards guard Jerry Stackhouse, who scored a game-high 24 points but was seething after the team's third straight loss. "We're not doing the same things we were doing when we were having success. We'd go away from what we were doing. We could sit here every time and sing the same old song that this happened and that happened, but things are happening for a reason. Until we see that and start doing what it takes to win games, we're going to keep having nights like that.
"We say the same things. We say we need to move the ball and do this and do that. There's certain times of the game where you have to take advantage of mismatches like we were doing in the first half. Jon Barry can't guard me for long stretches and I don't even get an attempt to attack him. We attacked him in the first half because he can't guard. Why didn't we attack him late? We're doing everything to bail him out.
"When he's on defense he can chase off screens and that's what he wants to do. If you can get him on the block and wear his [behind] out, it's a different story. There's a lot of different things we can do better and we can start winning games."
Stackhouse missed his only field goal attempt in the fourth quarter but did make all five of his free throws in Washington's 19-point fourth quarter. No player got more than three shots in the final period because the Wizards (12-16) were too busy turning the ball over (they had 14 turnovers overall).
Guard Michael Jordan (17 points) had three of his four turnovers in the final period, including one with 14 seconds left, when he lost control of the ball when the Wizards had the chance to tie at 85 with a three-pointer. Pistons guard Chauncey Billups missed one of two free throws to give Washington the chance but like the game itself, the Wizards botched it.
"You can look at the stats and how the game was played, and we outplayed them in every area but turnovers," Jordan said. "I'm the biggest culprit. I had four turnovers, which was totally uncharacteristic of me. That was one of those games where you want to hide your head under the pillow. You limit your turnovers, take care of the basketball and you give yourself a better chance to win."
Jordan said the team's late-game woes were mainly a problem of execution but he added that the Wizards did not adjust to some of the defensive changes that Detroit made. He did not specify if it was the players or strategy for that shortcoming.
"You can say either way, as long as you know the problem you should go out with extra effort to keep the ball moving," Jordan said. "When teams make their adjustments -- teams in this league are going to make adjustments to what's hurting them -- we have to come back offensively, stay focused, make our adjustments and hang on to the ball."
Collins said he begged his team in the second half, when it got outscored 46-33, to move the ball and stay with the plan, but players tried to do things their way, which, once again, resulted in a loss.
"We went dead," Collins said. "We went dead in the water and when our team does that, I can't get them out of it. I cannot do it. . . . We got stagnant. When we don't move the ball, we stand and if we do that we can't win. That's something I battle with, with this team. I must have said it 30 times in the second half, 'Please move the ball.' "
Former Wizards guard Richard Hamilton, who was traded to Detroit (19-9) with two other players for Stackhouse and two others last summer, had a team-high 22 points. Forward Ben Wallace had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Guard Larry Hughes led the Wizards with a season-high 12 rebounds. Forward Kwame Brown had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.