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Cunningham's late heroics not enough, Pistons lose 10th straight in OT

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — When it came down to crunch time, the numbers didn’t matter for Cade Cunningham. He had started the game 4-of-16 going into the overtime.

Then he clicked it into another gear.

Cunningham scored the Pistons’ last eight points of the extra period — all on drives to the rim — and the last one tied it with 24.6 seconds left.

It wasn’t enough to get the win, as the Washington Wizards got a go-ahead 3-pointer from Kyle Kuzma with 0.6 seconds remaining and the Wizards held on for a 119-116 victory in overtime on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons (4-20) have lost 10 straight games, with several following the familiar pattern of giving up a double-digit lead. The Pistons led by as many as 14 points but couldn’t hold on in the fourth.

“They showed resiliency. We were down 13 and fought back and got back in the game,” coach Dwane Casey said. “There's no participation awards, which is what I always say at the end of the game. I'm just proud of the way the guys competed and fought, but at the end of the day, it's still on the bad side.”

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) and Pistons guard Frank Jackson (5) pressure Wizards guard Raul Neto (19) in the first quarter.

Jerami Grant finished with 28 points and five rebounds, Cunningham 21 points and four rebounds, Frank Jackson 19 points and Isaiah Stewart 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who next play at the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

The Wizards (15-11) led by double digits midway through the fourth quarter, but the Pistons mounted a comeback the final six minutes, using a 12-1 run to get within two. Grant had three points during the spurt and Jackson had a big-time 3-pointer to pull within 104-102 with 1:46 remaining.

The Pistons had a chance to tie it, and Grant looked to have two free throws after getting fouled, but the Wizards challenged the call and after a review, they won the challenge and it was a jump ball. The Pistons got the ball, but they missed the shot and Bradley Beal (25 points and six rebounds) hit a midrange jumper with 31 seconds left to extend the lead to four.

Stewart got a lay-in with 22.2 seconds remaining and Grant made a pair of free throws to tie it at 106 with 2.3 seconds left. Beal had a shot to win it in regulation, but his drive and shot went off the side of the backboard, sending it to overtime.

BOX SCORE: Wizards 119, Pistons 116

Kuzma (26 points and seven rebounds) started the extra period with a 3-pointer and Stewart answered with a putback to stay within one. Beal added two free throws, but Cunningham scored on a tough drive to the rim.

Spencer Dinwiddie (12 points, six rebounds and seven assists) pushed the lead to four with a 3-pointer, but Cunningham responded with a drive and lefty finish and then scored on another drive over Wizards center Daniel Gafford to tie it at 114 with 58.1 seconds left.

Casey lauded Cunningham’s play in the overtime period, though he entered just 4-of-16 from the field, but his eight points helped the Pistons stay within reach.

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) is guarded by Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) in the first quarter.

“It was great to see, because at the end of the game in the NBA, you've got to have somebody that can go create their own shot,” Casey said.

“I thought Cade did that tonight and Jerami did that. Both men created their own shots because you're going to see their best defense. You're not going to trick the defense at the end of the game like that.”

Beal regained the lead for the Wizards with a jumper, but Cunningham came through again with another left-handed finish to knot the game at 116 with 24.6 seconds remaining.

Kuzma finished the game with a corner 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, with only 0.6 seconds left on the clock. The Pistons had a last desperation attempt by Frank Jackson, which fell short.

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In the third quarter, The Pistons tied it at 86 after a long 3-pointer by Jackson — his fourth of the game — but the Wizards finished the third quarter with three free throws. Trey Lyles fouled Dinwiddie and got a technical foul for arguing a call and Washington made all three free throws, for an 89-86 margin entering the fourth quarter.

Josh Jackson scored a lay-in to get within one, but Kuzma ignited with eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Stewart ended the run with a reverse lay-in, but the Wizards took control and gained their largest lead, 103-90, after a putback dunk by Gafford, a drive by Raul Neto and a drive by Kuzma.

Pistons forward Trey Lyles (8) shoots being defended by Wizards center Montrezl Harrell (6) in the second quarter.

The Pistons made another run, with a 3-pointer by Hamidou Diallo (12 points).

The Wizards started the third quarter with a spurt, spurred by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points), who scored their first 10 points in the first two minutes of the period. Caldwell-Pope hit a pair of 3-pointers and added a midrange jumper and a drive to erase the Pistons’ eight-point halftime lead and tie it at 62.