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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Wizards can’t afford slipup vs. Pistons

Wizards can’t afford slipup vs. Pistons


The Washington Wizards don’t want to rely on help from other teams to make the NBA’s play-in tournament. The past 10 days have put them in a precarious position.

They have recorded just one victory during their past six games, but they will face the team they defeated — the Detroit Pistons — on Tuesday night in Washington.

Washington, which fell 112-93 to the host Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, sits a half-game behind the Chicago Bulls for 10th place and the final Eastern Conference play-in berth.

“We’re not looking around needing help from any other teams across the league,” wing Corey Kispert said. “If we win games, we’re in, and if we lose games, we’re out. It’s really that simple.

“Every day when we come to the gym from now until the end of the season, whenever that is, we’ve got to be fighting and clawing for everything.”

Washington dropped back-to-back home games to the Atlanta Hawks prior to the loss in Philadelphia. The Wizards edged the Pistons 119-117 on March 7 on Daniel Gafford’s last-second putback.

The Wizards had all of their main offensive players available on Sunday, but except for a 31-point second quarter, the Sixers put the clamps on them. Washington shot 40.5 percent overall and 23.1 percent on 3-point attempts.

The trio of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma scored a combined 34 points, 33 points below their usual output.

“A lot of those situations we just couldn’t get in an offensive rhythm. We couldn’t capitalize,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “To (the 76ers’) credit, they’re a good defensive team. But we had allowed them to defend us that way, by not finding action, not moving the ball and just settling in and stagnating.”

Kispert tied his career best with 25 points but took little solace in his individual performance.

“We weren’t ready to play (Sunday),” he said. “We were flat, but shots ended up falling down for me personally. Little bit of a two-sided thing.”

Kuzma is listed as questionable to play Tuesday due to right knee soreness. Washington has won seven straight against Detroit.

The Pistons will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set. They snapped an 11-game losing streak by pounding the visiting Indiana Pacers 117-97 on Monday.

Detroit led by as much as 31 points despite a makeshift rotation. Eugene Omoruyi, who signed his second 10-day contract earlier in the day, started at small forward and scored 17 points.

Rodney McGruder, who has spent much of the season at the end of the bench, contributed 18 points in a starting role.

Journeyman point guard Cory Joseph led the way with a season-high 22 points in Detroit’s first victory since Feb. 10, when it edged the San Antonio Spurs in double overtime.

Indiana, which was also playing without several starters on Monday, defeated the Pistons 121-115 on Saturday.

“The guys played with grit, and that’s all you can ask for with this group that we have together — young guys, guys trying to make it (in the league) — they played with grit,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I think it surprised Indiana, the type of grit we came out with. I was really proud of the way we bounced back.”

–Field Level Media

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