Ish Smith talks about the Pistons' flat second half in their loss to the Wizards. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Washington — One reason for the Pistons’ good start to the season has been that that they have had some games in which the bench was able to play well when the starters didn’t or the first five picked up the slack when the reserves lagged.
The Pistons haven’t had many games in which both groups played poorly.
Then came the second half of Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
With a big run to start the third quarter, the Wizards jetted to a double-digit lead and got some offensive magic — even without the injured John Wall — and took a 109-91 victory over the Pistons at Capital One Arena.
The loss ended the three-game winning streak for the Pistons (14-7), who were on the front end of a back-to-back, with a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
Tobias Harris had 15 points, Andre Drummond 14 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks, and Avery Bradley 13 points.
The lackluster effort on offense and rebounding — the Wizards had a 49-32 final margin on the boards — irritated coach Stan Van Gundy.
“They tried really hard and we didn’t try at all. We got outworked and out-efforted. It was a really disappointing and embarrassing night for us,” he said. “We just didn’t bring anything in the second half, at either end. We played with no energy on the offensive end and they got into us.
“In the first three minutes (of the third quarter), we only had one shot hit the rim … We got dominated in the second half and we brought nothing to the game. It was an embarrassing effort on our part.”
Rod Beard on the Pistons' loss to the Wizards, and Sixers matchup. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
In that decisive third quarter, the Wizards (12-10) opened with a 17-0 run — according to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the longest run to start a half in the NBA this season — and turned a six-point deficit into a 63-52 lead.
The run included two baskets each from Otto Porter (17 points and six assists), Bradley Beal (10 points) and Tim Frazier. The Pistons ended the surge with two free throws by Harris, but didn’t get their first field goal — a 3-pointer from Anthony Tolliver — until the 5:42 mark.
“It looked like (complacency) from all of us at the start of the second half. We weren’t really moving our bodies out there,” Harris said. “We just thought we were going to score the ball at will and get stops, but we really weren’t able to do that.
“We were at a 3 and they were at a 9 — that’s where the energy levels were.”
The Wizards kept the scoring going, as Markieff Morris (23 points and seven rebounds) answered with a 3-pointer and Porter added a jumper, pushing the Wizards’ lead to 70-57. They finished the third with a 9-3 spurt and built a 14-point advantage after outscoring the Pistons, 35-15, in the third. From there, the Pistons never got the lead under 10.
The Pistons were able to overcome a slow second quarter, when the reserve group gave up a 12-5 run to start the period. When the starters returned, they ignited, with a 16-2 spurt, including a three-point play by Harris, a spinning jumper by Reggie Jackson (12 points) and an alley-oop from Bradley to Drummond.
The Wizards stayed close, though, getting within 49-46 on 6-2 spurt, with jumpers by Morris, a jumper by Beal and a tip-in by Marcin Gortat (12 points and 12 rebounds). Harris hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 52-46 at halftime.
Jackson said the offense got out of kilter, which led to the malaise and inability to get into gear.
“We got a little stagnant,” Jackson said. “Once the ball was not going in the basket, once we got some turnovers, we all kind of just tried to do it ourselves instead of continuing to stick to what we were doing.”
PIstons head coach Stan Van Gundy says his team's loss to the Wizards was "embarrassing." Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Here are some observations from the matchup:
■The Pistons don’t get outrebounded often — and certainly not to the tune of 49-32, which is the advantage the Wizards had. Drummond had 17 boards, but the other four starters only managed four.
■Without John Wall (knee injury), the Wizards were without their second-leading scorer, but simply spread the scoring around. They finished with four starters in double figures — all except Wall’s replacement, Tim Frazier, who had six points, five rebounds and six assists — and kept the Pistons on their heels, especially at the start of the third quarter.
■The Wizards unveiled their name and logo for their new development league team, the Capital City Go-Go. It’s an homage to the rich heritage of go-go music, which is a staple of the culture in Washington D.C. The logo includes a pair of bongo drums in the Wizards’ red, white and blue color scheme. The Go-Go will begin play in 2018.
■Bradley is regarded as a defensive menace, as one of the best on-ball perimeter defenders in the league. He showed why in the first half, with four steals and some eye-popping defense on the Wizards’ leading scorer, Bradley Beal.
■Drummond typically hasn’t had big games against the Wizards, but he packed the stat line in the first half, with five points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He didn’t have a stellar start to the third quarter, which stunted the effort toward a potential triple-double, but he continued to show his newfound versatility in the offense.