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Mar 28, 2024 6:02 pm

Pistons, Wizards winding down lost season for dubious honor

cade cunningham

A little over two weeks ago, the Detroit Pistons overtook the Washington Wizards in the race to avoid the NBA’s worst record.

Since then, the Wizards are playing better while the Pistons are skidding again.

The NBA’s two worst teams get together for the final time Friday night when the Wizards host the Pistons.

The Wizards (14-59) were ahead of the Pistons in victories until March 12 and fell one game back when Detroit earned a nine-point win over the Toronto Raptors on March 13. Washington dropped 1 1/2 games back with its 135-119 loss at Houston the following night. But wins over the Sacramento Kings, Toronto and Chicago Bulls gave the Wizards a season-high three-game winning streak, moved them back in front in the league standings and the Wizards are two games ahead heading into Friday.

Washington was inches away from a fourth straight win Wednesday but took a 122-119 overtime loss to the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Jordan Poole scored a season-high 38 points and Kyle Kuzma added 24 and 10 assists as the Wizards shot 50 percent or better for the 17th time this season.

“We’ve had some dogfights these last five or six games or so,” Poole said after missing a potential tying 3-pointer with 7 seconds left in overtime. “It’s really hard to win consecutive games; four in a row is tough. But we fought, we battled back in that fourth. We had a couple looks that didn’t go in.”

Even with the loss, the Wizards are on their best stretch of a trying season that will likely see them lose at least 60 games for the first time since a 19-63 finish in 2008-2009. Since its 16-game losing streak Jan. 31-March 6, Washington is 5-6 in its past 11 games.

The Pistons (12-61) are five losses away from matching the team record set in 1979-80 and are on an eight-game skid since moving ahead in the standings. It is Detroit’s third skid of at least seven games, including its NBA-record 28-game skid.

During its skid, Detroit is averaging 98.3 points and giving up 115.8 points while its average margin of defeat is 17.5 points.

Detroit took its sixth straight double-digit loss Wednesday in a 106-91 loss to the host Minnesota Timberwolves. Cade Cunningham scored 32 points after missing two games due to maintenance on his knee, but the Pistons shot 38.3 percent, marking their second-lowest percentage of the season.

After trailing by as many as 31 in Monday’s 124-99 loss to the New York Knicks, the Pistons were more competitive Wednesday when they briefly took a two-point lead late in the third before struggling in the fourth quarter.

“There were some tough shots, maybe some times when we didn’t move the ball enough before we got into shots, especially when they were on their run,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got to find ways to make them guard still.”

The Pistons were without seven players Wednesday and used their 34th starting lineup. They may be without Jaden Ivey on Friday after the guard missed the game Wednesday with a sore left knee.

Washington earned victories in two of the previous three meetings, including Jan. 27 in Detroit when Kuzma scored 30 points in a 118-104 win.

–Field Level Media

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