Wizards drop season opener to Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Wizards had no business even being in this game at The Palace, but they had their chance as Trevor Ariza kept them in the season-opener for both teams.
Ariza had a game-high 28 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 6 of 11 three-pointers, but the Detroit Pistons led almost the entire way because of dominant interior play with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
The duo combined for 36 points on 12-for-22 shooting. Monroe attempted 15 free throws and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. Drummond had eight.
The Wizards were able to trim the deficit to five points twice in the fourth quarter with Drummond on the bench with five fouls, but a pair of three-pointers from Chauncey Billups and one from Josh Smith iced the victory.
Billups finished with 14 points, making 4 of 5 threes. Will Bynum, who started at point guard, had 17 to make it the entire starting five for Detroit in double figures.
John Wall had 20 points and 11 assists but missed all four of his three-point attempts. Bradley Beal had 17 points and missed 4 of 6 attempts from long range.
Turning point: A competitive game flipped after the first quarter, with the Pistons ahead 25-22, and grew to as many as 13 points. The Wizards played from behind -- mostly from double-digits -- and couldn't consistently score.
Best in show: Ariza kept the game from getting out of hand with 17 points in 18 minutes of the first half. In the third quarter he had a five-point run that included a three-pointer to keep the Wizards alive and trim a 15-point deficit. He also stole the ball from Smith and assisted Wall on his transition dunk. That sequence was the only reason the Wizards had a chance to steal the victory. He led the Wizards with 10 rebounds.
Off-the-marksmen: Wall missed his first five shots and never found his stroke. He finished the first half 3-for-12, including 0-for-3 on three-pointers. The good news was that he didn't have a turnover until late in the third quarter. Beal didn't shoot much better after a red-hot preseason. The starting backcourt combined to finish 14-for-39.
What took so long: Martell Webster, the team's best three-point shooter, didn't take a shot until less than one minute remained in the third quarter. The three-pointer was good and the Wizards trailed 80-71. In 21 minutes of play, that was Webster's only attempt. He made two free throws to finish with five points.
In reserve: Marcin Gortat, acquired in a trade last weekend, did not start. He came off the bench and logged seven minutes in the first half. Trevor Booker, who ended the preseason as the starting power forward, took that spot. Nene began at center but that's expected to change eventually when Gortat gets more familiar with coach Randy Wittman's system. Gortat entered at 5:29 of the third quarter and made his first points with the Wizards less than 30 seconds later on a baseline jumper to cut the deficit to 65-57. He had dunk attempts blocked by Greg Monroe and Smith and finished 3-for-6 for nine points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes.
Talking points: 1). How long will it take for Gortat to start because the Pistons scored 65 percent of their points (32 of 49) in the first half inside the paint? 2). Will Wall continue to look for his shot despite a poor outing and a dismal preseason? 3). Is Eric Maynor at 100 percent? A key free-agent acquisition, he only played nine minutes and was ineffective in the preseason when he sat out a game because of a sore left Achilles.
DNP: Jan Vesely and rookie Glen Rice didn't see any playing time.
From the locker room: "Offensively we were really bad in the first half. Shot selections terrible, which led them to easy breakouts, kind of open transition. We got beat in every category: Points in the paint (56-28), second-chance points (16-12), fast-break points (13-9), rebounds (44-38). A lot of that in the first half was our shot selection. We're taking shots that guys shouldn't be taking. It leads us to bad transition and they build up a little cushion and now you're fighting out of a hole. Defensively ... I've seen us do things that we haven't done in a month with our rules ... We almost went out and looked like, from a defensive standpoint, looked like we just went out and played a pickup game." -- Wittman
"They were just more aggressive than us and playing harder than us at the beginning. ... I didn't do a great job of getting us into the offense and making shots and that made it tough on use. We did a great job of fighting back and started trying to do things the right way. ... Our guards didn't do nothing. We didn't finish. ... We didn't do a good job of executing, that's the main thing. And we didn't stay with our defensive concepts." -- Wall
"Those were shots I usually make which makes me a little bit frustrated, I guess. Those were shots I know I'm capable of making" -- Beal
"I definitely screw(ed) up. I gave up too many layups, too many and-ones and just my rotation wasn’t sharp enough. ... They have a big lineup. And the point guard (Bynum) is really fast also. We’ve got to learn to play against big lineups like that and use our advantage on the court and shoot the ball well. There’s going to be more opportunities to play these guys. Next time, we’re going to be a better team when we face them." -- Gortat
"We should have an advantage on 90% of the nights in this league. We have to go to that. The good thing about it is those guys (Drummond and Monroe) are really good passers and we have perimeter shooters as well when they get in there, don't have something, kick it out to some of our shooters. It makes for a tough attack." -- Billups
Up next: The Wizards returned home after the game, will practice at Verizon Center on Thursday and have their home opener Friday vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). The Sixers upset the Miami Heat on Wednesday 114-110.