Another big night from Stewart can’t drag Pistons past Wizards in 121-100 loss

Detroit News

Isaiah Stewart had a career-high 21 rebounds in Friday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He followed it up with another career-high performance in the back-to-back against the Washington Wizards.

Stewart was one of their best offensive options, in the paint and even beyond the arc, with a season-best 19 points, on 7-of-11 shooting, and he added 12 rebounds.

It wasn’t enough to keep the Pistons in the game, with an onslaught performance from the Wizards leading to a 121-100 victory at Capital One Arena.

It’s the fifth loss in the last seven games for the Pistons (17-40), who got starters Cory Joseph, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee back after they missed Friday’s game.

The Wizards (23-33) led by six at halftime, but had a burst in the third quarter, with a lay-in by Russell Westbrook, who had a triple-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and a 3-pointer by Bradley Beal (37 points), to pull ahead, 73-61, at the 7:46 mark.

Washington controlled the paint, with a 74-46 margin on points in the paint, including 15 points from Robin Lopez, who was 7 of 10 in the post. Center Alex Len, who started 4-for-4 in the first seven minutes, also was effective in the first half, before leaving because of an injury.

Coach Dwane Casey lamented a poor defensive effort that let the Wizards get comfortable in their offense from everywhere on the court.

“One thing you have to do is take away the threes,” Casey said. “They shot 56% from 3. We didn’t have great rim protection, and they got (to the rim) way too easily.”

The Pistons couldn’t chip away at the lead, which grew to 17 after consecutive baskets by Ish Smith and Daniel Gafford and a 3-pointer by Beal, who made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Stewart had nine offensive rebounds of his 21 on Friday and he was more aggressive on the offensive end on Saturday, as he posted up in the paint and made his only 3-point attempt.

“I love the way he plays, and I love his energy,” Casey said. “He sets the tone when he’s in the game.”

The Wizards shot 53% (50-of-94) from the field and the Pistons didn’t have an answer defensively for their All-Star guard tandem and their combination of Lopez and Gafford in the paint.

In the fourth quarter, the Pistons trimmed the lead to 93-82 after Frank Jackson opened with a lay-in, but the Wizards answered with an 11-2 run. The Pistons made another push but the Wizards created more space and pushed the lead to 23 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Smith and Beal and an alley-oop by Westbrook, for a 112-89 lead.

BOX SCORE: Wizards 121, Pistons 100

The start of the game was just as bad for the Pistons, who missed 10 of their first 11 shots. The Wizards didn’t take advantage, though, with just an 8-6 lead after the first three-plus minutes. Washington got in gear, with back-to-back baskets from Len and a free throw from Rui Hachimura, for a 13-6 margin.

The Pistons rallied and tied it at the end of the quarter on a tip-in from Stewart. The Wizards pulled away with a 12-7 run and pushed the margin to 47-40 after a three-point play by Lopez on a sweeping hook and foul, and a steal and basket by Raul Neto.

Ball scored seven straight Wizards point near the end of the quarter and added a free throw on a technical foul, and Washington led, 61-55, at halftime.

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