Surging Pistons try to stop Wall, Wizards
The Detroit Pistons know all about John Wall’s ability to take over a game. The Pistons have the unenviable task on Saturday of trying to slow down Wall, who’s led the Washington Wizards on their current hot streak.
Washington carries a four-game winning streak into The Palace and Wall, their floor leader, is averaging 25.8 points and 10 assists during that span. Wall racked up 29 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and three steals in the Wizards’ 113-110, nationally-televised victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Wall fell short of gaining a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team but he’s playing like one. He certainly enjoyed the spotlight at Madison Square Garden.
“That’s what you love, especially with a TV game,” he told the Washington Post. “It makes it more exciting. You just want to make the big plays and the right plays at the same time and be aggressive.”
Backcourt partner Bradley Beal was limited to eight points, just his second outing this season failing to score in double figures. Washington was still able to capture its fifth road victory against 13 losses.
“It’s good to get a road win,” coach Scott Brooks told the Post. “We’ve had so many last-second shots on the road that didn’t go our way, so it’s nice to close out (Thursday) with the win.”
Wall and Beal overwhelmed the Pistons during the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 16. Wall had 29 points, 11 assists and three steals while Beal supplied 25 points and four assists in a 122-108 romp at Washington’s Verizon Center.
The Wizards (23-19) shot 57.1 percent that night and led by 18 points after three quarters.
Detroit (20-24) won its last two games, including a 118-95 home victory over an Atlanta Hawks team that won nine of its previous 10 games.
“From start to finish, we played really well,” point guard Reggie Jackson said. “We played with confidence and a lot of effort. Hit them early, hit them often.”
The Pistons scored a season-high 42 points in the first quarter and 69 by halftime in a game they never trailed.
“It was a really good step forward for us but we’ve said it all year, the key is you’ve got to do it more than once in a while,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ll see going into Saturday and going into Monday (against Sacramento), can we sustain that kind of play going forward?”
Van Gundy’s club played short-handed in recent games. Power forward Jon Leuer missed the last five games with a bone bruise on his right knee. Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is recovering from a left rotator cuff strain.
They’re questionable to play against Washington, though Leuer was able to practice in full on Friday.
Reggie Bullock recorded season highs of 15 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Hawks filling in for Caldwell-Pope while Stanley Johnson, who is seeing increased playing time at shooting guard and small forward, contributed seven points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“If we continue to keep that going, we will be a tough team to beat,” Bullock said.