Wake-up call: Wizards brace for counterpunch

Wake-up call: Wizards brace for counterpunch
December 30, 2013, 6:00 am
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Washington Wizards small forward Martell Webster (9) loses the ball as Detroit Pistons power forward Josh Harrellson (55) and Pistons shooting guard Chauncey Billups (1) defend in the second quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 102-86.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

When playing the Detroit Pistons, facing the monstrous duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, it's either hit or get hit. That's why the Wizards have been big on using analogies such as punching, clawing and kicking. They took it on the chin in the season opener but returned the favor two days ago. Monday, in the final game of 2013 for both teams, it should be more of the same -- and then some. 

“They’ll come out with a lot more energy and be a lot more physical. I think we did a great job with hitting them first this game and they fell back on their heels a little bit," said Bradley Beal, who had 10 of his 15 points in a four-minute stretch of the second quarter of Saturday's 106-82 rout in Washington. "In the next game, we definitely have to be prepared to brace ourselves because we know they are going to come back with a vengeance. They probably didn’t like that we beat them by 20-plus."

The Wizards (13-14) have won four of their last five games and neutralized Monroe and Drummond in the paint. In their first meeting, a 113-102 loss in Detroit, the Wizards allowed 56 points inside and only scored 28. This time, they drew even with 48 each. 

[RELATED: Game On: Wizards-Pistons preview]

"They’re gonna play the same way, but they’re gonna play a lot harder," said John Wall, who led Washington with game-highs of 20 points and 11 assists. "They’re going to try to make a statement and take care of home-court advantage like we tried to do here after we lost a bad loss to Minnesota (on Friday). We’ve just got to play the same way, keep moving the ball as a team and trusting each other.”

In that first meeting, the Wizards were out of sorts. Marcin Gortat had just been acquired a few days prior in a trade and came off the bench. He started in rematch, going 7-for-9 for 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in just 27 minutes. The Pistons (14-18) had three starters contribute a total of 10 points. 

“The good thing is we know what we have to do and how we have to play. That’s not going to change," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "That’s a prideful group over there. As I told my guys, you’ve got to expect they’re going to come in here on Monday and take the fight to us.”