Kuzma's hot third quarter carries Wizards to win over Pistons


WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 103-94 on Monday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five observations from what went down...

2 out of 3

Following what was probably their most difficult stretch of the entire season, the Wizards' schedule is beginning to open up and already they are taking advantage of it. On Monday, they held on to beat the lowly Detroit Pistons to make it two wins in three games.

Going back a bit further, that makes them 3-3 in their last six. Given this has followed a season-high six-game losing streak, it represents stability and progress they may be able to build off of. The fact they have the easiest remaining schedule in the NBA should help that cause.

Monday showed how, as the Wizards won despite not playing so well themselves. The game was tied at halftime and they only managed 16 points in the fourth quarter. Washington, though, outscored them 37-28 in the third quarter to earn the victory.

The Wizards are now 26-30 on the year overall with two games left before the All-Star break. It's a back-to-back at the Pacers and Nets on Wednesday and Thursday.

Kuzma caught fire

The first time these teams played this season in December, Kyle Kuzma beat the Pistons with a game-winning three in overtime. He called it one of the best moments of his career, as it came in his home state and against the team he grew up rooting for. Kuzma followed that up with another good game against Detroit on Monday. Most of what he did came in the third quarter. Kuzma went off for 17 points in the frame, shooting 7-for-8 in the frame. He finished the game with 23 points and seven rebounds, shooting 10-for-18 from the field.


Kuzma was automatic around the rim, hitting a series of tough shots in traffic. It was his second straight game with 20-plus points and his 18th of the season. He may get a lot more of those by the end of the year, given he's the Wizards' No. 1 scoring option right now and should still get plenty of shots when Kristaps Porzingis returns. Porzingis sat out again with a bone bruise in his right knee.

Cade in D.C.

This was the first time 2021 first overall pick Cade Cunningham played at Capital One Arena with the Pistons. The Wizards saw him in Detroit in the first meeting between these teams in December, a game which saw Cunningham score 21 points. He didn't have nearly as many in this one, in part because of foul trouble. He managed 12 points with four assists and four rebounds on 5-for-16 shooting.

Still, he was impressive to watch. At 6-foot-8, he has an excellent handle and a quick first step. He also displayed astute court vision with crafty passes in the halfcourt and in transition. The thing that stood out the most, however, was how engaged he was on both ends of the floor. Cunningham was constantly talking to his teammates and attentive to the flow of the game. You can tell he's competitive and not the type to take any plays off. Those intangibles should bode well combined with his athleticism and unique skillset.

Bey and Avdija

This game featured two top-20 picks in the 2020 draft who each played very well. Deni Avdija, the ninth overall selection, had a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with 12 points and three assists. Avdija has reached double figures in three straight games, all three since the roster was remade at the trade deadline. He has so far been taking advantage of having a larger role.

Bey, the 19th overall pick, led the Pistons with 24 points, along with five rebounds and five assists. He made four threes, including a lethal stepback over Kuzma in the second quarter. Bey played his high school ball at Sidwell Friends. Bey has established himself as one of the best young shooters in the league and he showed why against the Wizards and looks to be a legitimate building block for the Pistons to move forward with in their rebuild.

Rui got hurt

Early in the second quarter, Rui Hachimura suffered a right ankle sprain on a play the NBA has made efforts to eliminate from the game. He went up for a corner three and made the shot, only to come down on the leg of Marvin Bagley III who closed out too far and got under him. Hachimura was in obvious pain immediately as he limped down the sideline. The referees reviewed the play and issued Bagley III a flagrant foul.


There's a reason why the league doesn't want those plays to happen, it's because they often result in injury. Bradley Beal famously suffered a bad ankle injury in the 2015 playoffs when Al Horford got under him. Horford then did it again two years later against then-Wizards forward Markieff Morris. Hopefully Hachimura's injury isn't serious because he's been playing well and has a good opportunity to develop over the these next two months.