AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Fifty wins are still in play for the Wizards after they went without John Wall and Otto Porter to turn out the lights at The Palace on Monday, 105-101.
Kelly Oubre (10 points, six rebounds) and Brandon Jennings (two points, six assists, five steals) started in their place as Washington (49-32) never trailed after the midway point of the first quarter. They led by as many as 15 in the final home game for the Pistons at the arena they have called home since 1988.
Bradley Beal (33 points) was on fire from the start. He made 7 of 10 shots, including a Hail Mary off a difficult catch in the corner for a 55-42 halftime lead.
Markieff Morris (20 points, eight rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) started while Ian Mahinmi (six points, 11 rebounds) was a force inside off the bench along with Tomas Satoransky (11 points, three assists) and Bojan Bogdanovic (nine points).
The Pistons (37-44) were listless outside of Ish Smith (16 points, nine assists) and a muted performance from Andre Drummond (10 points, seven rebounds) who only played 24 minutes. Tobias Harris (22 points) helped trim the deficit to 79-73 entering the fourth and tied it twice.
They Pistons could never regain the lead. Beal had two plays where he blew by Stanley Johnson, one off a curl and another on a face-up move, for layups in a 43-second span that squashed their hopes after getting to within 90-88. Beal had a thunderous dunk with 34 seconds left and drew the foul. That put the Wizards ahead 103-97 and he made the final two free throws to cap the scoring.
The Wizards won the season series with Detroit 2-1. Their regular-season finale is Wednesday at the Miami Heat, who have won all three of their meetings. A win puts them at 50.
The Pistons will move downtown next season to Little Caesars Arena. The Palace, almost an hour's drive outside the city, will be demolished despite being one of the NBA's better facilities to watch a game.
--Jennings set a brisk pace from the opening tip. He was able to gamble more successfully vs. Smith, who isn’t a threat from deep and can be contained if playing him for the drive. Jennings got the offense going right away and had a nifty one-hand pass to Mahinmi that should’ve been an assist but the big man missed. Up 98-94 with 90 seconds left, Jennings opted for a quick flip pass in transition that was too difficult to handle for Jason Smith (six points, six rebounds, three assists) that was a turnover. Detroit responded with a three-pointer to give it new life.
--Boban Marjanovic (eight points, eight rebounds) was confused by Mahinmi, who could match the 300-pound center’s strength and defended him in isolation in the post. Marjanovic couldn’t get deep post position as Mahinmi used an arm bar technique perfectly to stand him up and beat him to the spot when he tried to make a counter move. When Drummond was in, Mahinmi pressured him in the high post to prevent the cutters from getting the ball cleanly going to the rim. But at 4:47 of the fourth, Mahinmi contested Ish Smith’s jumper and had to limp off the floor after consultation with the head athletic trainer.
--With Wall out, Trey Burke became the backup behind Jennings played his first real minutes since Feb. 28 after Jennings was signed as a free agent. Burke had made just two appearances since then totaling seven minutes. Burke contributed to what started out as a fruitful second quarter but had two turnovers in eight minutes and lost Ish Smith off the ball. He didn’t play after that.
--Morris had his second consecutive strong offensive game as he was too skilled for Henry Ellenson, who couldn’t defend him in the mid-post or facing up. The Pistons had to send a help defender, usually Drummond or Marjanovic, but that’s why they were outrebounded 48-36. Morris went at Jon Leuer (zero points) in a move across the lane for a fading jumper to push the lead to 98-94. He faced up Leuer again and went baseline with a sweepthrough move for the falling down jumper and a 100-97 lead. Beal did the rest.
--Satoransky has more confidence in his shot. He made 4 of 6, including a three-pointer from the short corner when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ran at him to contest. When the Pistons tied the score at 79, Satoransky broke it with a pull-up jumper the next time down. His first assist was to Jason Smith in the fourth and Satoransky had two free throws for an 85-81 advantage. He played 19 minutes, his most since Jan. 14.
--No regular starter played more than Beal’s 33 minutes. Gortat logged 21 and Morris 27.