Otto Porter breathe a sigh of relief after when Marcus Morris' final heave fell short of the rim. Porter, who had a five-second violation on an inbounds play with 9.2 seconds left that put the Detroit Pistons in position to tie or win, ran out to contest the shot as the Wizards won their third in a row Saturday night.
With their star backcourt not playing their best, the Wizards rode 51 points from their bench in coming back from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter for a 97-95 victory at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Nene had 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals and Ramon Sessions contributed 14 points, a game-high nine assists and four rebounds. Jared Dudley had nine points and Garrett Temple, who returned to bench after starting the previous two games for Bradley Beal, had eight points and five rebounds.
The starters for the Wizards (6-4) closed out the game in the fourth quarter, with John Wall connecting with Marcin Gortat for a dunk at 1:06 for a 96-91 lead. Wall had just eight points and seven assists and Beal, playing his first game in two weeks after a left shoulder contusion, had just seven points. Gortat finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
After Reggie Jackson made two foul shots, the Wizards had to simply inbound the ball, take the foul from the Pistons (7-6) and make the two free throws to seal the outcome. But Porter waited a hair too late to ask for a timeout which awarded the ball to Detroit.
Morris had an open look, passed it up and Porter was able to run out to challenge him on the final shot. Jackson had 20 points and nine assists and Ersan Ilyasova and Morris each had 18 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16.
Porter otherwise had a solid game with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals.
- Nene opened with 14 points on 7 of 7 shooting in his first eight minutes. He realized that Aron Baynes could not defend him, so when the slow-footed big tried to step out he'd put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. But again, it's Nene's reads on defense that made the bigger difference which led to the offensive burst. His position defense forced Baynes to travel early in the second quarter and then there was a fantastic sequence when his help created a transition basket. Dudley stepped over on a pick-and-roll to assist Sessions on Jackson. Nene, defending Drummond on the low post on the strong side, peeled off his man and jumped the passing lane from Jackson to Ilyasova in the paint. He took the steal end to end for a layup and a 44-30 lead.
- Beal, in his first game in two weeks, clearly wasn't in sync. He was invisible for the entire first half even though he started, taking just eight shots overall. He made a big one in the fourth quarter. With the teams trading the lead late in the fourth, Beal curled around a screen from Nene for a 90-89 lead.
- Gortat continued to have success against Drummond, who entered the game with averages of 19 points and 19 rebounds. Drummond was held to eight points and 13 rebounds, his first game without a double-double this season. Most importantly, Drummond didn't get a single offensive rebound which is a category in which he dominates in the NBA. Including three meetings from last season, Gortat averages 17 points and 12 rebounds against Drummond.
- Sessions didn't attempt a field goal in the first half but went to the foul line six times as he kept his dribble alive and forced whistles. He scored his 14 points on just five shots because he went to the foul line 10 times total. Sessions worked extra time after practice in Friday on taking contact on drives with assistant coaches to prepare and it paid off.
- Officials missing calls is part of the game. It goes both ways. But there were some egregious ones late. The game clock didn't start for about 11 seconds with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter when Detroit inbounded the ball down 94-89. Then Gortat grabbed an offensive rebound and was tied up by Morris who is 6-9. Drummond stuck his hand in there, but he didn't have a grip on the ball as the scramble was happening behind him. Morris had both hands on it. When the ball was jumped, it was Gortat vs. the much bigger Drummond instead and Detroit won the tip while coach Randy Wittman yelled uncontrollably for it to fall on deaf ears. And on Morris' final shot, look at when Drummond enters the lane and how long he stays. It lasts about 5.5 seconds as he had a mismatch on the much smaller Temple (Gortat stepped out to seal off dribble penetration by Jackson). When Porter committed his five-second violation, it was in fact close to exactly five seconds. If the game is being called that tight with nine seconds left, it should be called the same on Drummond's violation in the lane. The NBA releases an officiating report on the last two minutes of games within five points or less. While it won't address the non-starting clock or the jump ball mishap, it'll be interesting to see what they say at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.
MORE WIZARDS: Nene's stellar night summed up in one posession