It was the final game in the season series between the Pistons and the Wizards on Wednesday night in Washington D.C. The Pistons were welcoming back both Brandon Knight and Will Bynum to the lineup; Knight was coming back from a knee injury and Bynum from a one-game NBA suspension. While Bynum's two-point return is nothing to talk about, Knight put on a career-high show with 32 points. In a game that went from a potential blowout to a nail biter, the Pistons came out on top with a 96-95 victory.
For a coach who preaches "best shot" and ball rotation, Lawrence Frank couldn't have asked for a better start to the game on Wednesday night. The first 16 field goals for the Pistons came on 16 assists, an impressive streak that ultimately saw the Pistons throw 35 assists on 39 made field goals for the game. The two main benefactors of all those assist were Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. The man throwing most of those assists was Jose Calderon.
The Pistons managed 48 points in the paint against the Wizards, and Monroe accounted for 26 of them. Monroe was efficient with his attack, forcing the Wizards bigs to respect him on the block and around the high post. Monroe showed off an a 17-foot jumper, making the high elbow shot three times in the third quarter. Monroe also grabbed 11 rebounds, tallying his 27th double-double of the season.
For all those waiting for Calderon's pass-first mentality to spark Brandon Knight for a big scoring night, Wednesday was a long overdue sign of "what could be." Calderon recorded 18 assists for only two turnovers. Among those 18 assists, six ended with Knight scores. The two were working well together, and Calderon was setting up his other fellow starters all night as well.
Slashing to the basket and pushing the pace, at times pulling a coast-to-coast push alone, Knight was aggressive all night; a comforting sign for a player coming off a knee injury. More impressively, Knight caught fire from beyond the long line as he missed only one of his six three-point attempts all night. For Knight to truly show that he's able to play the undersized shooting guard spot effectively, an ability to knock down the deep ball regularly is essential. Wednesday night was more proof of Knight's range; all he needs now is nightly consistency.
While the praises of the Pistons are sung here, one has to wonder why the box score was close. Simple, the Pistons got turnover happy with 16 turnovers total, and the bench did nothing to allow the starters significant rest. Washington's Trevor Ariza came off the bench for a season-high 22 points. The Pistons bench could only muster 19 points total, while collectively turning the ball over five times in lower than usual minutes played.
On a side note, the Wizards posted a Pistons'esque 13-point third quarter that saw the Pistons jump out to a 16-point lead. For a moment the Pistons looked like they might blowout the Wizards, but the Pistons bench could not score in the first minutes of the fourth quarter. The Wizards opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run, before Lawrence Frank decided to go back to an all-starter lineup. At that point Washington had heated up and it was a three-point game.
The Pistons are now off until Friday night when they'll travel to New Orleans to finish off the season series with the Hornets. The Pistons were blown out by the Hornets 105-86 the last time the two teams met at the Palace on Feb. 11. The Pistons and Hornets will tip-off at 8:00pm on Friday night.