Wizards-Pistons Preview

The Detroit Pistons have been hampered by a poor defense all

season, but it’s never been more apparent than during their current

slump.

A visit from the Washington Wizards would normally appear to be

an ideal opportunity to turn things around given Detroit’s recent

history at home in the series, but perhaps not after the Wizards

dealt them a lopsided defeat on Saturday.

Detroit will try to avoid a fourth straight home loss Monday

night against Washington.

The Pistons (14-18) have lost four of five and might not

necessarily welcome a return home from a three-game trip

considering they’ve dropped five of six in Detroit and are 6-10

there on the season.

Opponents are shooting 46.8 percent versus Detroit – one of the

highest numbers in the league – but that’s climbed to 52.7 percent

during the last four losses. Washington was 43 for 86 and 9 of 19

from 3-point range in a 106-82 home win over the Pistons on

Saturday.

“Our transition defense has been bad. Our interior defense has

been bad,” said coach Maurice Cheeks, who held a practice Sunday

despite coming off a back-to-back. “When you have a team that is

shooting well from the three and getting inside the paint, a lot of

things are going to give and we need to recover.”

Josh Smith was benched for the second half against the Wizards

after going 2 for 7 for four points with four rebounds in 18

minutes. He also struggled in Friday’s loss at Orlando, finishing

with five points on 2-of-13 shooting.

“I just felt like I wanted to make a change and stay with the

guys I went with,” Cheeks said.

Smith’s 15.1 points and 3.2 assists per game both rank second on

the team.

“I mean it’s unfair because like I told you before, I play the

game hard each and every day,” Smith said. “When I was younger I

played this game free year around. So why wouldn’t I want to come

out here and put my best foot forward every time I step out?”

After Bradley Beal left with a leg injury in Washington’s worst

loss of the season Friday at Minnesota, Beal returned Saturday to

score 15 points. Ten came in the second quarter when the Wizards

(13-14) outscored the Pistons 31-18 on the way to ending a

seven-game series skid with their largest margin of victory in

2013-14.

“I woke up this morning feeling good, so I was hopeful that

would be a good sign throughout the day,” said Beal, whose MRI

earlier in the day was negative. “The (doctor) told me it was

nothing but a little bone bruise. It’s going to take a little bit

more than that to keep me from playing. And it didn’t hurt tonight,

so that’s a good thing.”

John Wall scored 20 points and had 11 of the team’s season-high

34 assists. The Wizards claimed a 46-38 rebounding advantage after

giving up a minus-9 margin against the Timberwolves.

“Being aggressive, attacking the basket, being more physical,”

Wall said. “We got back to our defensive concepts and we protected

the rim and got a lot of rebounds.”

Trevor Ariza is 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) from 3-point range over

his last five games versus Detroit after going 4 for 6 on

Saturday.