WASHINGTON – John Wall scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and the Washington Wizards have their first three-game winning streak since 2008 following Tuesday night's 107-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Wall, showing none of the complacency that might befall a rookie at the end of a long, losing season, also had 12 assists and six rebounds for the Wizards. In the final minute of the first half, he hurdled over two rows of seats along the baseline to save the ball, then ran back onto the court to knock the ball away from Will Bynum while landing atop the scorer's table on the sideline.
In the fourth quarter, Wall willed his team to victory — giving Washington a rare string of success. The Wizards last won three in a row three years ago this month — April 4-9, 2008 — having been stopped after a two-game run on 11 different occasions. It helped that they ran into a beneficial NIT-like schedule of Cleveland, Charlotte and Detroit — all more than 10 games below .500.
The Wizards had also lost eight straight against Detroit, but the Pistons are limping to the finish line, having lost four in a row and seven of eight. Guard Rodney Stuckey, who has run afoul of coach John Kuester for unspecified reasons, was benched for the second straight game.
Greg Monroe finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons, but he missed two key free throws in the final seconds.
Andray Blatche added 26 points, 10 rebounds and six steals for the Wizards.
The bottom-rung teams played a competitive game. There were 21 lead changes, and neither team led by more than five in the second half. Wall's alley-oop to JaVale McGee tied the game with 42 seconds to play, and McGee's rebound and long outlet pass to Wall set up the rookie's fast-break dunk that put Washington ahead by two with 14.8 seconds left.
Monroe had a chance to tie when he was fouled under the basket with 10.2 seconds to go, but he missed both attempts at the line. Blatche grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made both of his free throws to give the Wizards a four-point lead.
Austin Daye made a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to cut Detroit's deficit to one. Wall was quickly fouled, but he made only one of two free throws with 1.8 seconds to go, giving the Pistons a final chance to win or tie. Daye's 3-pointer from the left wing rattled inside the rim before popping out.
The win came on a day that Wizards coach Flip Saunders announced that a half-dozen injured players on his roster will not return for the rest of the season. Several of the six have been out for a while already: Nick Young has a bone bruise in his left knee. Josh Howard has nagging tendinitis in his left knee. Rashard Lewis has nagging soreness in his right knee. Trevor Booker has a broken bone in his right foot.
The newer additions include Hamady Ndiaye, who strained a tendon in his left knee during warmups on Sunday at Charlotte. Also, Cartier Martin has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot and might require surgery.
That left the Wizards with nine healthy players against Detroit.
Notes: Wall made as many free throws (14 for 16) as the Pistons (14 for 20). ... Tracy McGrady hurt his right wrist when he was fouled while making a basket in the first half. He took his free throw left-handed then left the game, but returned for the second half. ... Tayshaun Prince made a buzzer-beating jumper that took five laps around the rim before falling in at the end of the third quarter. ... Detroit's former Connecticut players — Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva — attended UConn's NCAA title game victory over Butler in Houston on Monday night. Hamilton shot a Butler-like 1 for 11 from the field.