Detroit — Without three of their starters, the Pistons played one of their best games of the season in Saturday’s win over the Houston Rockets.
Tasked with the same challenge against the Washington Wizards, they couldn’t repeat the feat.
Both Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin sat out because of injuries, and along with Reggie Jackson’s extended absence because of a back injury, the Pistons were looking to replicate the formula.
They stuck around for most of the game, staying close down the stretch. The Pistons were within two points midway through the fourth quarter, but fell to the Wizards, 133-119, on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the most points the Pistons have allowed in a regulation game since 1995, against the Seattle Supersonics — a team that had Dwane Casey as an assistant coach. It’s also the highest point total the Pistons have surrendered this season.
For the second straight game, the Pistons were without Drummond, who had eye inflammation because of an allergic reaction. Griffin, who missed the second half of Saturday’s win over the Houston Rockets because of knee soreness.
Derrick Rose picked up the offense with 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Markieff Morris added 22 points and five rebounds and Bruce Brown 20 points and six rebounds for the Pistons (11-16).
The Pistons gave up 43 points in the first quarter and had an uphill climb the rest of the way. never getting the lead in the second half.
“If you give a team 43 points in the first quarter, that’s the game,” coach Dwane Casey said. “If you let a team see the ball go through the basket, a team that's been struggling and that’s lost how many straight?
“All they needed to do is come out and we didn’t come out with that same disposition we did against Houston. In this league, when you do that, bad things are going to happen.”
The Wizards (8-17) led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, with a 3-pointer and another jumper by Davis Bertans (17 points) at the 8:22 mark. The Pistons rallied with a 3-pointer by Svi Mykhailiuk, a dunk by Christian Wood (12 points and six rebounds) and a free throw by Mykhailiuk. Bradley Beal (35 points and 10 assists) followed with a 3-pointer, starting a 7-2 run.
Washington led, 67-61, at halftime and after an opening 3-pointer by Garrison Mathews, they got consecutive 3-pointers from Luke Kennard (14 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Tony Snell (10 points) to get within three points.
The Pistons stayed within single digits for most of the third quarter and had spurt by Rose, with a drive and a 3-pointer and added a 7-0 run, with two free throws from Brown, a 3-pointer by Snell and two free throws by Rose, to pull within 92-89, with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
“We couldn’t get stops,” Morris said. “We really couldn’t get stops all game. They scored 133 points, so it just wasn’t the fourth quarter. They figured out how to get their best players involved and Bradley Beal had a great game.
“Our team made some shots late in the fourth, but we just couldn’t figure it out.”
Former Piston Ish Smith scored four straight points to extend the lead to seven before Brown’s basket to trim the lead to 96-91 entering the fourth quarter.
Rose scored six of the Pistons’ first eight points to open the fourth quarter, but the Wizards matched them basket for basket. The Pistons got within 109-107 after Brown scored six straight points — all on free throws — but Isaiah Thomas (23 points and six assists) answered with a 3-pointer. That started an 8-0 run, with two free throws by Beal and another 3-pointer from Thomas, to help put it out of reach.
The Pistons never got closer than six the rest of the way.
► Morris was effective in a starting role and meshed well with the first unit, but that took some of the scoring punch from the second group, who had Christian Wood but a limited rotation without both Griffin and Drummond. The Pistons’ lack of depth in the frontcourt has hurt them at times this season but seemingly more on Monday, as they were tied with 36 rebounds with the Wizards — the worst rebounding team in the league.
► Without their best post threats, the Pistons had to rely more on a perimeter game, setting the stage for more 3-pointers, and they attempted 39 3-pointers. There weren’t as many opportunities available in the paint and Washington seemed to get all the open rebounds and loose balls.
► Things got chippy in the second half, as Bertans and Morris had a little scrap after a loose ball. Morris was called for a flagrant-1 foul and Bertans made one of the ensuing free throws. It was a turning point in the game, as the Pistons were starting to close in, but they didn’t get the lead in the second half.
► The Pistons’ defense was porous in the first half, giving up 81 percent from the field in the first quarter, part of a 43-point outburst for the Wizards. Beal had 15 points and six assists in the first period and the Pistons gave up 17 field goals, while hitting 13-of-27 themselves.