Kuzma’s three-pointer with six-tenths of a second left in overtime was the last word in the Washington Wizards’ 119-116 victory, which snapped a three-game skid in the finale of a three-game road trip.
“That moment meant everything to me,” Kuzma said. “Obviously, outside of winning a championship, that was everything. Coming home, growing up a Pistons fan and hitting a game-winner on that floor with my mom there — that’s like a full-circle moment.”
Kuzma finished with a team-high 26 points and added seven rebounds. Bradley Beal contributed 25 and six for the Wizards (15-11).
Detroit (4-20), which overcame a late 13-point deficit to force the extra period but now has lost 10 in a row, was led by former DeMatha star Jerami Grant with 28 points. No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham started and finished strong to score 21 points, and Frank Jackson had 19 off the bench.
“Just a good win,” Beal said. “We battled it out. It wasn’t pretty, but we did everything necessary to win the game. Hats off to our guys. Worked tremendously hard the whole night. It wasn’t easy. Hats off to Detroit. We were both in the same little funk.”
The Wizards seemed to seize control with a 37-point third quarter, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the first half to a 13-point lead early in the fourth. But as the visitors eased off the gas, the Pistons closed regulation with a 16-3 burst to force overtime.
“Obviously we needed to get that win,” Wizards Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “A hard-fought game. You go into overtime [after you were] up 13 with six minutes to play, and that’s where we kind of let our guard down a little bit.”
Here’s what to know from Wednesday’s game:
Cunningham seemed to be in line for a big game when he scored nine first-quarter points by doing a little bit of everything.
He got to the free throw line, tipped in a miss and pulled up for a jumper. That’s as good as it got for the franchise cornerstone until overtime. Daniel Gafford swatted Cunningham twice — the first was a volleyball spike, the other a meeting at the rim that denied the rookie a dunk.
Cunningham reestablished himself in the extra period, scoring eight straight Pistons points. He finished with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Unseld talked before the game about not letting turnovers turn into easy points as the Wizards did in Monday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. The message did not take: The Wizards committed nine first-half turnovers that led to 12 Detroit points and a 60-52 halftime deficit.
Unseld said he delivered a slightly different message at the intermission.
“The message was [the Pistons] were playing with more desperation than we were,” Unseld said. “And they’ve been struggling. But yet so have we. So who wants it more?”
Unseld repeatedly said during the road trip that the Wizards needed to get back to the type of defense that they played during the early part of the season. The areas that needed improvement were communication and urgency. He said nothing has changed except the level they’re playing at — Unseld noted that it needs to be a priority.
Homeward bound — briefly
With their road trip complete, the Wizards will get a few days in their own beds. They will take Thursday off and host the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Then they are back on the road for six in a row: Denver, Sacramento, Phoenix, Utah, Brooklyn and New York.