Where were these Wizards all along? For the last week, they've been absent -- of mind and effort -- but Monday's 124-81 destruction of the Detroit Pistons at Verizon Center showed what they're capable of when they're fully committed.
Bradley Beal (12 points) returned to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a sprained pelvis but only was 4-for-10 from the field. John Wall (15 points, 12 assists, five rebounds) for this 39th double-double to lead the way for the Wizards (31-35) who ended a five-game losing streak and won for the third time in a row over Detroit to secure the season series and their postseason tiebreaker. They have one meeting left April 8 at The Palace.
The Wizards are 2.5 games back of the Pistons who hold the eight and final playoff spot in the East.
Nene (season-high 20 points) was effective off the bench though he picked up three fouls in seven minutes battling with Aron Baynes down low. He made 8 of 9 shots and all four of his free throws.
Detroit (34-33) was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (18 points) but didn't have another player in double figures among the starters. Tobias Harris (eight points) shot 3 of 10, Andre Drummond (seven points, 12 rebounds) 3 of 9 and Reggie Jackson (eight points) 3 of 7.
The Wizards had seven players score in double figures, including Marcin Gortat (16 points, six rebounds), Markieff Morris (14 points), Ramon Sessions (14 points) and Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds).
All 13 players scored for Washington which led by as many as 44 in front of 18,042. The 43-point margin of victory was the largest since 2002-03 and represented a season high in points scored.
The Wizards shot a season high 51 of 90 (56.7%) and had a season high 34 assists. They're 15-3 when shooting 50% or better.
- The defensive energy that was missing on the West coast trip returned, with the Wizards getting their hands in passing lanes, deflections and contesting all shots. Gortat took two charges from Jackson and Harris. Nene opened the fourth by denying the passing lane to Baynes for the steal and the transition layup. Porter had half the output in this one than he did his last game with 23 points in a 16-point loss at the Denver Nuggets but he was even better in this one. The Pistons had 21 turnovers, 11 more than Washington, and were outscored 62-40 in the paint and 15-2 on fast breaks.
- Morris took advantage of having a smaller player switched onto him in the post and stepped out to make 2 of 5 shots from the three-point line. And when Garrett Temple (three points) was in and matched up with Steve Blake (three points) he posted him. They put pressure on Detroit, which is why Jackson had five fouls before the third quarter ended and Drummond had four.
- As Jared Dudley has started coming off the bench, his role is diminishing in terms of his scoring. Other than 16 points in Portland, Dudley has scored five (twice), two (three times) and zero in March. Dudley is still a top five three-point shooter in the NBA but he's just 2 of 12 this month.
- Alan Anderson knocked down his only three-point shot in the first half and came down awkwardly on his foot on Stanley Johnson's challenge. It was called a foul and Anderson stayed in the game briefly but didn't play again. It appeared to be his right foot/ankle and not the surgically repaired left one that has kept him out most of the season. He went to the locker room in the third quarter but didn't return.
- Something about the matchup with Drummond, the NBA's No. 1 rebounder, works for Gortat and Nene. Drummond (seven points, 12 rebounds) was held in check yet again. In his first two games vs. Washington, Drummond had eight point and 13 rebounds and then 11 and 13.