Wizards, Pistons look for better starts (Jan 19, 2018)

BY AP • January 18, 2018

Scott Brooks and Stan Van Gundy want better starts from their teams so they can get improved results.

Brooks, the Washington Wizards coach, saw his club allow Charlotte to make its first 10 shot attempts on Wednesday. The Wizards gave up 77 first-half points in a 133-109 loss.

That naturally didn't sit well with Brooks, whose team plays at Detroit on Friday night.

"We just have to find guys who are going to compete," he said. "It's not about anything else. It's not about how many minutes or how many shots you get. It's about competing. We're all paid to compete."

Washington has allowed 114.3 points per game over its last six games, and shooting guard Bradley Beal knows the defense must improve.

"You can control how you're playing on defense, you can control your effort, you can control boxing out, you can control your running -- sprinting the floor, getting back on defense, playing defense -- those things are controllable," he said. "Until we do that, we're going to continue to get killed."

The Wizards should be well rested for Friday's game. None of their starters played more than 28 minutes during the blowout at Charlotte.

"Even when we're not making shots, we have to defend at a high level. We didn't do that," point guard John Wall said. "They got basically whatever they wanted and got into a rhythm the rest of the game. Whatever shot they put up, the basket was just big for them."

The Pistons have lost three straight, most recently on Wednesday when they fell at Toronto 96-91. The Raptors opened up a 15-point, first-quarter lead and led most of the way.

"I think in the last three quarters we fought hard but the first quarter counts and there's just not very many times where we play a good defensive first quarter," Van Gundy said.

Shooting guard Avery Bradley agrees with his coach that slow defensive starts have been a major problem. Detroit started out 14-6 but is now just one game over .500.

"I feel like it is a concern," he said. "For the starts, I feel like we have to be the ones that start off playing the right way on the defensive end and having everybody else follow suit. We haven't been doing a very good job with that."

Detroit center Andre Drummond had a big game against the Raptors, posting 25 points and 17 rebounds. But he also made two defensive errors that led to 3-point makes by Toronto in the late going.

"Andre put up great numbers, and I thought in the middle 30 minutes he was good defensively," Van Gundy said. "He didn't start the game with a defensive mentality and then he didn't get up on the two pick-and-rolls late. It's unfortunate because we had fought really hard to be back in the game and to have two plays like that where you just have to be up, and you're not, it's unfortunate because 25 and 17 is a hell of a night."

Washington won the first two games of the four-game season series, both on its home floor -- 115-111 on Oct. 20 and 109-91 on Dec. 1. The teams will meet once more in Detroit on March 29.

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