Although the Detroit Pistons outplayed the Washington Wizards in almost every way Thursday night in Detroit, a mountain of their own missed free throws and the one-man band that is John Wall made things a little uncomfortable late. Ultimately the home team pulled out the 99-94 win.
Detroit outshot its guests 53 percent to 42 percent from the field, but left 16 points on the table in the form of missed free throws, preventing its lead from expanding further. Wall, who could use a lot of help in the nation's capital, was the other part of the equation, relentlessly taking the ball to the basket, scoring a game-high 28 points on 8-18 shooting and sinking 12 of his also game high 15 free throw attempts. Wall also managed to collect 10 of his team's19 assists on the night, and single-handedly kept the game in doubt.
Wall didn't get much help from starting backcourt teammate Jordan Crawford, who played 32 minutes but shot a miserable 2-13 from the floor. Crawford opened the game with an airball from three-point range and fittingly ended the game with the same.
The Pistons were led by Greg Monroe, who opened the evening with 11 first-quarter points. Monroe scored efficiently, banging in seven of 10 shots from the floor and grabbing seven rebounds in only 20 minutes of play on the night. His limited game play was due to coach Lawrence Frank's decision to sit Monroe for the final 18 minutes of the game in favor of the more defensive minded Ben Wallace.
Wallace, a notoriously bad free-throw shooter with a 34 percent success rate this season, missed his first four attempts. In the fourth quarter, Wallace came through, making five of six late and allowing Frank to keep his defensive specialist on the floor to close out the game.
Detroit's poor free throw shooting was aberrant being only the fifth time in 54 games the Pistons had shot less than 60 percent from the line; they had lost every game before this one that they had done so.
The Wizards, already bereft of front line talent, played without the extremely productive Nene and also without fellow front-court mate Trevor Booker. Kevin Seraphin did a fine job for the most part offensively, scoring 15 points on 7-12 shooting, but Seraphin fouled out early in the fourth quarter, queuing up Sean Fegan of Bullets Forever's highlight of the evening.
To take a positive away from this game, it gave the casual viewer insight into the interactions between referees and players. My favorite moment on the night was when 73 year old Dick Bavetta turned to Kevin Seraphin and screamed, "I called a foul because it was a goddamn foul." This is the advantage when you conduct a basketball game in front of 15 paying fans. Perhaps they should rename the Palace the Mausoleum until the Pistons become somewhat decent again.
Packey, over at Detroit Bad Boys, accidentally injects the solid observation of the perils of tanking vs. non-tanking:
Unless, of course, you consider the Pistons winning a bad thing. If so, you haven't had very much fun in the last three games, or five of the last six, or 10 out of the last 12 at the Palace. Believe it or not, the Pistons are 17-14 in their last 31 games, a winning percentage that would put them in the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference over the course of a season. What if the season wasn't shortened by a lockout? I digress.
For all of Thursday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.