Wizards

Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

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Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers are learning to adapt.

Playing their fourth road game in seven nights, they could have easily been overrun by the often overlooked Detroit Pistons.

Not this club.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead the weary Clippers to their 10th straight win, 88-76 over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

``We didn't shoot very well, and we didn't do a lot of things we wanted to do,'' said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. ``We just had a lot of guys make plays down the stretch and we get to go home with another win. Early in the season, we probably lose that game, but now we've gotten to the point where we can win ugly.''

No Clippers player scored more than 15 points, but they had five players score in double figures.

``This was a tough one, because we've been playing every other night and we're ready to go home,'' said Detroit native Willie Green. ``This was a great test for us, and we passed it.''

Blake Griffin also had 15 points for Los Angeles and Paul had seven assists. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Matt Barnes.

``When I saw that it was just the two of us, I told him to keep coming,'' Barnes joked. ``I figured a lot more people wanted to see Blake dunk than wanted to see me lay one in.''

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 and Tayshaun Prince added 15. Detroit, which committed 17 turnovers, lost its fifth straight.

``We did enough defensive things to win the game, but when you are going against a team that strips and steals the ball and is very aggressive, everything has to be sharp,'' said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. ``We have to be more precise, and in the last six minutes, you know it is going to be harder against a team like that, but we have to be able to do it.''

Both teams struggled in the first half, with the Clippers taking a 42-40 lead into the intermission despite shooting just 39 percent. Detroit hit 42.5 percent of its shots, but managed only one free throw and two offensive rebounds. The Clippers tried for the last shot of the half, but Prince stole the ball and two quick passes gave Greg Monroe a wide-open layup at the buzzer.

Los Angeles got things in gear in the third quarter, quickly taking a 12-point advantage, but Griffin went to the bench with four fouls and Detroit was able to work its way back into the game.

The Pistons were within 63-60 at quarter's end behind 13 points from Prince, but couldn't keep up the pressure.

``We played a good first half, but once we turned it over a couple times in the third, we let them get out and do their thing,'' Prince said. ``We didn't execute in the second half, and that's when you need it the most.''

Detroit committed three turnovers in a period of four possessions and Jason Maxiell missed a pair of free throws on the fourth, allowing Los Angeles to take an 11-point advantage with 6:45 to play. Brandon Knight also missed a technical-foul free throw in the stretch.

``We weren't hitting a lot of shots, but we trusted our defense to make plays,'' Barnes said. ``That was the way we finally won the game.''

The Pistons kept up the pressure, pulling down four offensive rebounds on one possession in the last 90 seconds, but couldn't hit enough shots to make a serious rally.

``They turned on that playoff mentality, stepped up their defense and kind of shut us down,'' said rookie Andre Drummond. ``The fourth quarter has been an issue all year. We aren't closing games out.''

NOTES: Former Pistons All-Stars Chauncey Billups (foot) and Grant Hill (knee) were both inactive for the Clippers, while Rodney Stuckey (back spasms) missed the game for Detroit. Billups, the MVP of Detroit's championship win in 2004, received a loud ``Chaun-Cey!'' chant from the crowd during a fourth-quarter timeout. ... Several members of the University of Michigan football team attended the game, including team captains Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs. Robinson, who hasn't thrown a pass since late October due to an elbow injury, tossed a Nerf football to the Pistons mascot during a timeout.

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NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: LeBron and the Cavs Continue to seem lost

NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: LeBron and the Cavs Continue to seem lost

The Cavaliers have been here before. 

Mid-season struggles, questions about chemistry, and worries about the future.

This time it feels a little different though, with a roster that was forced to be re-tooled in the offseason when Kyrie Irving wanted out.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

To add another new wrinkle, we're watching LeBron's old team, pass his new team, that was once his old team (still following this?), in the rankings this week.

The Wizards have stayed within the top-ten for a while now, but definitely, need more out of Otto Porter if they don't want to fall behind.

Oh yea, the Warriors are still really good, beating everyone, are even better on the road than at home, and likely not leaving that top spot anytime soon.

Sorry for the spoiler. 

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Potential of Tomas Satoransky playing alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal is starting to show

Potential of Tomas Satoransky playing alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal is starting to show

Head coach Scott Brooks and the Wizards front office told Tomas Satoransky at the beginning of this past offseason that they wanted him to improve at playing off the ball. Knowing how much they rely on John Wall as an All-NBA point guard, backup minutes behind him are always few and far between. Positional versatility is the key to Satoransky earning a larger role in their rotation.

Satoransky worked diligently over the summer at parts of the game that are outside his natural point guard skillset. He put up countless three-point shots and trained to develop timing and precision cutting to the basket.

Satoransky got significant minutes this season at first because Wall was injured for a nine-game stretch in November and December. Since Wall returned, the Wizards have seen the dividends of Satoransky's improvement playing off the ball.

"Tomas, give him a lot of credit along with our staff," Brooks said. "He doesn't play exclusively backup point guard. We can play him at the two or the three or we can play him like we have in the last few games with John and with Brad [Beal]."

Satoransky played much of the fourth quarter with both Wall and Beal on Jan. 5 in Memphis. In the five games since, Brooks has experimented with different guard combinations as backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks continues to struggle with a 35.3 field goal percentage.

PODCAST: JODIE MEEKS ON HIS SHOOTING SLUMP

On Monday against the Bucks, the potential of Satoransky running the floor with Wall and Beal was on full display as Satoransky caught alley-oop lobs from each of them.

PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE

Satoransky is 6-foot-7 and is a prolific dunker with the ability to play well above the rim. Wall is one of the game's best passers and Beal has made tremendous strides distributing the ball.

Fastbreak dunks are an emphatic way of showing how Satoransky can play off the ball, but there are also little, less noticeable things he is doing to make the most of his time on the court with Wall and/or Beal. Most notably, his three-point shot has improved to 40.5 percent this season, good for third on the Wizards' team. He can help space the floor as Wall and Beal go to work generating the offense.

Satoransky says corner threes are "much easier" for him at the moment, but he is developing range from other parts of the court. Simply getting playing time has helpd.

"It was crucial for me to increase my percentage of threes in order to stay on the court and to play off the ball," he said. "When John got hurt and I knew I was going to play more games, that's when I caught that rhythm where I caught the confidence to shoot threes."

When it comes to cutting to the basket, Satoransky is developing instincts for when to break when Wall has the ball in his hands. Their chemistry is nascent, but the potential is obvious.

"[Opponents] know John tries to drive to the basket and that really sucks in the zone, so I'm trying to cut at good moments and play without the ball," he said. "You have to be sprinting a lot because he's very quick with the ball."

The Wizards are sorting out what to do with their backup shooting guard position. The trade deadline is coming up in a few short weeks on Feb. 8 and they are currently evaluating their options with Meeks slumping. Satoransky may not solve those problems entirely, but his development playing off the ball can only help their cause.

PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER