Pistons hoping to bust slump vs. short-handed Wizards

NBA Basketball
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Washington managed to pull out a victory on Monday despite missing seven injured players and another on suspension.

The depleted Wizards will try to duplicate that feat Thursday when they face the Pistons in Detroit for the second time in less than two weeks.

Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner were among the players sidelined by injuries. Isaiah Thomas began serving a two-game NBA suspension for an altercation with a fan.

The Wizards got a career game from guard Troy Brown Jr. while defeating the New York Knicks 121-115. Browns lit up the Knicks for 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

“I feel like that is something I am capable of all the time,” Brown told the team’s website. “For me, it’s about going back and watching film and picking and choosing when to be aggressive and what’s a bad shot and what’s a good play for me. As I’ve been playing, I’ve just been aggressive and then letting everything else handle itself.”

Washington also got a huge boost from another unheralded guard, Gary Payton II. Signed earlier in the day, Payton had 10 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six steals.

Coach Scott Brooks marveled at how effective Payton was in his first NBA game this season.

“He has what every coach wants,” Brooks said. “He has a defensive toughness. He has a presence. He makes winning basketball plays. It’s remarkable.”

In the last meeting between the Wizards and Pistons on Dec. 16, Washington rolled to a 133-119 victory behind 35 points and 10 assists from its star, Bradley Beal.

The Pistons are also banged up, but they haven’t been able to pull out a victory recently. They are saddled with a five-game losing streak, with four of those losses coming at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.

Two starters, guard Bruce Brown and swingman Luke Kennard, missed a 125-109 loss to Philadelphia on Monday due to injuries.

The team’s star, Blake Griffin, played for just the second time in five games but was ineffective. Griffin shot 2 for 14 from the field while playing 27 minutes.

“For me, it’s never really been about lack of effort,” he told the team’s website. “I always try. I always dive on the floor. I always try to play defense, do little things. I’m used to contributing more offensively. I just haven’t been able to do that.”

Griffin carried the Pistons to the playoffs last season. Detroit is nine games under .500, largely because Griffin has missed nearly half of its games and hasn’t played at an All-Star level when he has been in uniform.

Coach Dwane Casey said Griffin can have a major impact even if his shot is not falling.

“He still can be a great facilitator, which he is, a great passer, which he is,” Casey said. “He understands he’s not shooting the ball well, but he still is a presence as far as screening, passing. We can still run things through him with (dribble handoffs), pick and rolls. There’s other things that impact winning that he can do.”

–Field Level Media

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