Pistons 99, Wizards 90
Charlie Villanueva and the Detroit Pistons went exactly a month between victories.
``Oh, man,'' Villanueva said. ``It felt like forever.''
His 23 points and nine rebounds helped Detroit end a 13-game losing streak by beating the downtrodden and distracted Washington Wizards 99-90 Tuesday night.
To the Pistons, it did not matter one bit that their first win since beating Golden State on Dec. 12 came against the Wizards, a club whose best player, three-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas, was suspended indefinitely by the NBA amid a guns investigation.
And a club whose coach, Flip Saunders, and several players have had to speak to authorities in recent days about that case. A club missing forward Andray Blatche, suspended for Tuesday's game for what Saunders indicated was complaining about getting enough plays drawn up for him.
``Somebody had to win tonight - and we just wanted it to be us,'' said Richard Hamilton, who scored 19 points for Detroit. ``We knew when we came in tonight, we could only worry about us.''
Rodney Stuckey also scored 19 and added a career high-tying 11 assists for Detroit, which lost by 33 points at Chicago on Monday night. A defeat against Washington would have tied the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history.
Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 31 points and 10 rebounds, while Randy Foye - who took over at point guard for Arenas - had 20 points and 10 assists. But Washington shot only 4 for 21 and scored a season-worst 11 points in the second quarter.
``We talked about it. We didn't want to be the team they beat,'' said Washington's Nick Young, 2 for 9 for the game with eight points, starting at shooting guard for the injured Mike Miller. ``But both teams were short-handed, and both teams had something to prove tonight.''
An announced crowd of only 13,544 showed up to watch these struggling teams. The Pistons are now 12-25, and Washington is 12-24; in the Eastern Conference, only the NBA-worst New Jersey Nets have fewer victories.
Detroit can chalk up its difficulties, in part anyway, to injuries: Key players Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon have all missed time. While Hamilton is back in the lineup, Prince and Gordon were out Tuesday.
The Wizards? Well, yes, they were without Miller because his bothersome right calf flared up again, but injuries are the least of their worries, what with everything else going on.
Nearly all traces of Arenas have been purged from Washington's arena, including a banner that used to hang outside. Three players missed Tuesday morning's shootaround because they were being questioned in the Arenas gun investigation.
Javaris Crittenton, a teammate involved in the spat that led to Arenas' taking his guns out of his locker, has been excused from attending practices or games until there is a resolution to the legal issues.
``It's been a little chaotic around here for the most part the last couple days,'' said Caron Butler, who had only 10 points and two rebounds against Detroit. ``That's something that you don't want to have to keep revisiting. As a player, you want to focus on basketball and basketball only.''
NOTES: The Pistons lost 14 games in a row in the 1979-80 and 1993-94 seasons. ... Saunders on disciplining Blatche: ``You hope that they understand why. It's like dealing with your kids. You have to do things. As I tried to explain when I talked to Andray: 'It's not against you. It's against what you did. How you acted. So it's nothing against you.' I don't hold grudges over those type of things.'' ... Miller was out for about six weeks before returning to action Friday, then playing again Sunday, when he aggravated his calf. ... Prince missed a second consecutive game with a sore left knee, and Gordon was out after straining his right groin in Monday's loss. Will Bynum missed a seventh straight game with a sprained left ankle.