Packard Plant partial demolition begins

Shorthanded Pistons fall one comeback short in loss to Wizards

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Washington, D.C. — One double-digit comeback is hard enough. Doing it twice in a game is asking a lot, especially for a team missing two starters and a huge chunk of its scoring.

After falling behind by 17 in the first half, the second big deficit was the Pistons’ undoing, as they couldn’t mount another run and fell to the Washington Wizards, 115-99, on Monday night at Capital One Center. It’s the third straight road loss for the Pistons, who again were without Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson because of injuries.

Detroit Pistons forward Tony Snell (17) battles for the ball next to Washington Wizards guard Troy Brown Jr. (6).

Luke Kennard had 24 points, four rebounds and five assists and Andre Drummond had his fourth straight game with at least 20 rebounds, posting 15 points, 24 rebounds and four assists.

BOX SCORE: Wizards 115, Pistons 99

“It can be difficult when you have some big-time guys out but we have talent in this locker room, too, and we beat a really good team on Saturday and we can beat teams without those guys,” Kennard said. “But obviously, if we had those guys, it just helps us out a lot more. It’s going to be good when we get them back but if this is who we have, we have to make it work and keep playing hard.”

Bruce Brown added 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but being pressed into playing point guard with the myriad injuries, he wasn’t as effective as he was in Saturday’s win over the Nets.

The Pistons (3-5) pulled within 63-61 at halftime on a jumper by Svi Mykhailiuk but the Wizards (2-4) started the third quarter with a 15-7 run and pushed the lead to 10 at the 6:40 mark, with a pair of baskets by Isaiah Thomas and six points from Thomas Bryant (14 points and seven rebounds).

The lead ballooned to 18 near the end of the third quarter, before Luke Kennard drove twice and was fouled both times, making three of four free throws. The Pistons got within 107-95 with 3:38 remaining after a floater by Kennard and a putback by Brown but the Wizards didn’t relent, holding a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

“When you don’t take care of the ball — we had 14 turnovers in the second half and 10 in the third quarter — that was the difference in the game,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We tried to go a little too much one-on-one instead of moving the ball and making the right pass and playing with each other.

“That’s the only way we’re going to win without our main guys — moving the ball and playing together. We did that against Brooklyn but you can’t have a once-a-week type of approach.”

The Pistons rallied with a 20-5 run near the end of the second quarter, cutting the 17-point deficit to two before Bradley Beal (22 points, five rebounds and six assists) scored their last four points of the quarter.

Here are some observations from the matchup:

►Brown wasn’t as effective at point guard Monday, committing four turnovers after having none on Saturday. He’s still filling in as an emergency replacement, so there will be some bumps on the learning curve, but until they get some of the regulars back, he’s likely the best option. Brown isn’t finishing at the rim, where his drives could result in three-point plays but his shots are simply not falling.

►The Pistons struggled when Drummond got in foul trouble and didn’t have a full complement of scorers on the floor. Kennard was able to handle his own with some help around him, but without Griffin and Rose, the baskets clearly were harder to come by. Kennard finished 6-of-12 from the field and was more aggressive going to the rim, hitting 9 or 11 from the free-throw line. He’s improved in that area but without other offensive options, defenses can play him straight up and not have to help.

►Christian Wood continued his good play again, after being somewhat limited in minutes. He finishes well around the rim and when he gets a head of steam going, he’s good at attacking the rim. When he’s out of control he runs into more issues and gets an offensive foul or gets the ball stripped. He had good minutes, with 15 points and four rebounds, and should see more playing time if he can cut the mistakes.

►Former Piston Ish Smith had a good game for the Wizards, with six points and five assists coming off the bench after starting much of the season with his new team. In the pregame warm-ups, he greeted many of his former teammates but turned it on when the game started.

►Former Michigan big man Moe Wagner was solid for the Wizards, with 12 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. He took the ball at Drummond on several occasions and fit in well with their rotation.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard