Sunday, November 21, 8:56 p.m.
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By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comAUBURN HILLS, MI -- While waiting his turn in the pre-game layup line, John Wall was able to do a little bit of "The Dougie". Even though Wall was not able to suit up for the game, the Wizards were able to keep step with the Pistons before falling in overtime 115-110.
Shooting 54 percent from the field and with a manageable 15 turnovers for the game the Wizards played well enough to win, but paid for mistakes at critical times. In overtime the Wizards committed 4 turnovers and Richard Hamilton made an assortment of mid-range jumpers to score 12 of the Pistons 13 points in the extra session.
"We tightened up when the Pistons came back," noted Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "It was like no one wanted to take a shot and then we were forced to take shots in one-on-one situations. And that is now how we were scoring. Earlier we were scoring because we were moving the ball and getting guys open off cuts."
Hamilton finished with a game-high 27 points overshadowing spectacular performances by Gilbert Arenas and JaVale McGee. Arenas dished out a career high 16 assists to go with 19 points and McGee had a career high 16 rebounds to go with 20 points.
"We can't be satisfied with having good performances and coming up dry," Saunders added. "This is a game we should have won. First half we took care of the ball. Second half we didn't. I think some of our guys got tired and started trying to make home run plays."
In a thoroughly entertaining game the Wizards just keep making plays before stumbling in the closing moments. With 5:16 remaining in the fourth quarter the Pistons naturally played Nick Young to shoot from the outside, but instead he exploded from the wing to lane and finished a runner to give the Wizards a 96-89 lead. Young had 18 points off the bench.
Andray Blatche struggled to find a rhythm most of the night, but played through and had his best moments down the stretch. With 2:38 left in the game Blatche was able to convert a three-point play after getting fouled on a driving layup to give the Wizards the a 100-95 edge.
Like McGee, Blatche also led the Wizards with 20 points with 11 of his points in the fourth quarter.
As had been the pattern the entire game, the Wizards could not put the Pistons away. The Pistons closed regulation on a 7-2 run punctuated by Charlie Villanueva's driving layup with 20.9 seconds left to tie the game at 102. Villanueva finished with 25 points.
The Wizards did get one more possession to try and win it in regulation. As Arenas dribbled the ball in the center circle and let the clock go down, there was anticipation that he might go for a game-winning shot. Arenas drove to the basket but as the lane closed he passed it to a wide open Blatche on the wing. Blatche's attempt from 23-feet rimmed out.
Neither team had a lead bigger than seven points. In fact the Pistons had a 24-17 lead at the end of the first quarter but then the Wizards turned in their most impressive 12 minute stretch of the season as they outscored the Pistons 38-28 to take a 45-42 half-time lead.
A group led by Arenas that also included McGee, Young, Trevor Booker, and Cartier Martin provided the Wizards with the surge at the start of the second quarter. Arenas was very much in command as he dished out 5 of his assists and the Wizards made 16 of their 21 shots from the field.
Arenas and Hinrich have been effective together and they have alternated running the point. To go with Arenas' numbers, Hinrich had 12 points and 6 assists. In regulation Hinrich and Arenas only had 3 turnovers apiece, but unfortunately Arenas had 3 more in overtime.
While he was technically listed as active and a part of the pre-game routine, Wall did not dress and missed his fourth consecutive game with a sprained left foot. Yi Jianlian also remained sidelined with bone bruise in his right knee.