Kuzma scores 23, Wizards deal Pistons 8th straight loss
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By RICH DUBROFF
WASHINGTON (AP) Kyle Kuzma scored 17 of his 23 points in the third quarter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16, and Deni Avdija had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as the Washington Wizards sent the Detroit Pistons to their eighth straight loss, 103-94 on Monday night.
Saddiq Bey led Detroit (12-45) with 24 points. Jerami Grant scored 14 and Cade Cunningham, who leads NBA rookies in scoring, was in foul trouble for much of the game and finished with 12 points.
"We should be frustrated," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "You should be frustrated with losing and putting ourselves in this position. Frustration, but don't lose hope."
Washington (26-30), losers of nine of their previous 11, took a 75-74 lead on Ish Smith's jumper with 2:47 left in the third. Kuzma scored seven points in the final 80 seconds of the quarter as the Wizards took an 87-78 lead after three.
After the Wizards traded Davis Bertans, Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday at last week's trade deadline, the team seems refreshed.
"Just the commitment to playing the right way," Kuzma said. "That's super, super important, and for most of the season we haven't necessarily done that for multiple games, and I think over these past three games, it's been really refreshing to play this way."
The Pistons, held scoreless for more than four minutes late in the fourth quarter, are 4-25 on the road.
"As soon as we don't score, our defensive juices, our defensive focus kind of goes," Casey said.
In his first game since Detroit traded for him, Marvin Bagley III had 10 points, and collided with Washington's Rui Hachimura early in the second quarter. Bagley was assessed a flagrant foul, Hachimura converted on a four-point play and left the game later in the quarter with a sprained right ankle.
"He was aggressive," Bey said of Bagley. "Took a charge early, showed his defensive awareness. We're definitely going to need him and use him down the stretch."
Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. had no further news on Hachimura after the game.
Pistons: G Frank Jackson was out with a back injury. .C Luke Garza was on a G League assignment. . Bagley hadn't played since Jan. 29, when he was with Sacramento.
Wizards: Unseld hopes that F/C Kristaps Porzingis, acquired from Dallas last week, will be able to play before the All-Star break. Porzingis is out with a bone bruise in his right knee. "He's doing a little bit more every day on the floor," Unseld said. "That's a positive sign, but we still have to be cautious with it. When the time's right, he's ready." . C Daniel Gafford is out of the health and safety protocol, but is reconditioning, Unseld said.
CUNNINGHAM'S ROUGH NIGHT
Cunningham, who was the top overall pick in the draft, needs to learn from foul trouble.
"He had some very foolish fouls," Casey said. "That's one of the reasons we left him in, to see if he could play with three fouls. He will learn how you play with fouls, and how not to foul in certain situations."
AVDIJA LIKES CHANGES
The new look Wizards have energized Avdija.
"I feel like we're more engaged," Avdija said. "Everybody needs to do a little bit more. We're excited. We keep our heads in the game, do what we need to. Everybody knows their role, keep sharing the ball. I think we can do great things. We needed a change."
Pistons: Visit the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Wizards: Visit the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
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Updated February 14, 2022