In a matchup that will surely lack viewership, the lowly Washington Wizards visit the Detroit Pistons Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home set at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Washington has the worst record in the NBA at 3-20 and is riding a five-game losing streak. The Wizards are winless in three straight road games and fell to 1-11 away from D.C. with Wednesday's 90-83 setback at Orlando.
Nene led the Wizards with a game-high 20 points off the bench, while Jordan Crawford added 19 points and six assists for Washington. Forward Earl Barron made his first start of the season for the Wizards and posted just two points.
"We don't have the guy you're just going to give the ball to and say carry the load for us," Washington coach Randy Wittman said.
Crawford leads the team with 15.0 points per game and Nene is right behind with 12.7 ppg in only 12 games played. Crawford is averaging 18.1 points, 6.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds this month, while Nene's 20 points against the Magic were a season high. Nene, who missed the first nine games of the season due to injury, has averages of 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his previous four games.
The Wizards, whose only road win was on Dec. 11 at New Orleans, are still without young star point guard John Wall (knee) and rookie guard Bradley Beal is questionable tonight with a sore lower back. Beal missed the last game and is third on the team with 12.5 ppg. Beal leads all Eastern Conference rookies in scoring (15.0 ppg) and total assists (27) in December (8 games), recording 10-plus points in seven of those games.
Washington is only 1-14 against the East this season.
Detroit has lost six in a row and looks to stop a five-game home losing streak as well Friday night. The Pistons are 5-8 at The Palace this season and are coming off Wednesday's 97-91 setback at Toronto.
Greg Monroe had a career-high 35 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Rodney Stuckey was the only other Piston in double figures with 13 points. Toronto used a 14-6 run in the fourth quarter and the Pistons got no closer than four points (91-87) later on.
"We're trying to find what we need to do to get back on track," Monroe said. "I don't think we've fallen totally off track. The way we've been losing, it hasn't been horrible games. We're right there. Just a little bit more we have to do to finish games and pay attention to detail coming down the stretch."
Monroe became the first Piston to score at least 35 points and pull down 10 rebounds since Grant Hill did at Chicago on May 2, 1999.
The Pistons hope Monroe can keep their recent success against Washington intact as they have won 10 of 12 and 13 of the last 17 encounters. The Wizards are winless in eight of nine and 14 of the past 18 trips to The Palace.
Detroit will head to the Verizon Center Saturday night to close out this home- and-home series.