The Washington Wizards are one win away from their best start in 40 years. Standing in their way Wednesday night is the Detroit Pistons – a team Washington has found considerable trouble against recently.
Washington (5-2) has not won six of its first eight games since 1975-76, and will try to match that start by improving to 3-0 at home for the first time since 2006-07 (6:30 pregame, 7 p.m. tip-off on FOX Sports Detroit).
"We want to protect home," guard Garrett Temple said. "That was our main thing coming into training camp: protect the home. Because we didn’t do a good job of that last year."
Temple has played a role in Washington’s success. With Bradley Beal sidelined due to a fractured left wrist, Temple has filled in at shooting guard with 10.7 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range. However, he’s totaled six points on 1-of-10 shooting in the past two contests.
Washington will try to make it six win in seven games overall with its third victory in four games against Detroit (2-5). The Wizards split the four-game series last season after losing six straight and 14 of the previous 16 matchups.
With Beal out, the Wizards have offset his absence with improved defense. They rank among the top 10 in the NBA in scoring defense (96.0) and field goal percentage defense (43.3 percent).
Despite that success, coach Randy Wittman admitted that his team has yet to face a front court like Detroit’s.
"Big team. Probably the biggest team we’re going to face," Wittman said. "With (Josh) Smith, (Greg) Monroe and (Andre) Drummond starting together, that’s a formidable front line and one of the top rebounding teams in the league, so that’s going to be a test for us."
After averaging 101 points per game last season – the first time Detroit reached that mark since 1992-93 – the Pistons rank 29th in the NBA with 91.9 per contest this season.
Smith, Drummond and Brandon Jennings are all scoring below their career averages and Detroit’s .410 field goal percentage is the league’s worst.
"We have to learn to do it for 48 minutes," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We have to get stops down the stretch. We have to find somebody we can go to to get shots."
Detroit and New York are the only two teams yet to score 100 points in a game. The Pistons last went eight games without scoring 100 points in 2011-12, when they finished 25-41 with the league’s fourth-worst offense.
They found a glimmer of hope in the second half of Monday’s 102-91 loss at Chicago, cutting a 16-point deficit to two with under three minutes remaining.
"The second half was a positive for us by and large," Van Gundy said. "But when you give away the first half and then play better, but still come up short, I can’t accept it. You have to play to win."
Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Monroe added 16 and 10. Drummond grabbed 12 boards, but was 0 for 5 from the field and finished with two points.
John Wall has totaled 63 points on 22-of-38 shooting in his last two meetings with the Pistons.