Monty Williams says Pistons ‘Just Got Outworked’ in 118-104 Loss to Wizards

Despite a 30-point night from Bojan Bogdanovic, and double-doubles by both Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren, the Detroit Pistons got little help from their bench outside of rookie Ausar Thompson, and they couldn’t manage their turnovers, losing 118-104 to the visiting Washington Wizards on Saturday, Jan. 27, at Little Caesars Arena.

Cunningham, who returned to action after missing two weeks with a left knee injury, wasn’t great shooting (7-of-17 from the field and 4-of-6 from threes) but scored 20 points and had 12 assists on the day. Duren scored 10 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Pistons.

Aside from Thompson’s eight points off the bench, Pistons reserves managed to shoot just 4-of-22 from the field. Turnovers also plagued the Pistons, as they gave the ball away 17 times and the Wizards converted those takeaways into 21 points.

“It’s hard to score when you turn the ball over that much, and you turn it over for points. We haven’t done that in a while,” Pistons Head Coach Monty Williams said after the game. “I didn’t think we had execution and poise tonight. There were times were down one, two points and it felt like we were down 20 just because we knew we weren’t playing the way that we had to play.”

Flint-native Kyle Kuzma matched Bogdanovic’s 30-point performance with one of his own, scoring eight points in a two-minute span down the stretch to help Washington ice the game. He led the way offensively for the Wizards, but the team had five double-digit scorers. University of Michigan-alum Jordan Poole added 17 points, and Daniel Gafford had 15 points, 13 rebounds (including six offensive rebounds), and three steals.

“We just got outworked tonight. It’s not that we didn’t work hard, they just worked so much harder. We haven’t been in that world – giving up 20 fastbreak points, 16 offensive rebounds, and then the turnovers. That’s a bad combination. This team is not a team that gets outworked, and we got outworked tonight,” Williams said. “…The second unit came in and we couldn’t run an offense.”

It was the first game back in Detroit for Wizards big man Marvin Bagley III, who was traded with Isaiah Livers from the Pistons earlier this month to the Wizards for Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari. Bagley III posted a near-double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

The Pistons led the game right out the gate, going up by as much as 10 points in the first quarter until the starters went to the bench. With Detroit up 29-19, Washington went on a 14-4 run to close the first and go up 36-33 on a Poole side-step three to close the quarter.

The second quarter went much like the first when the Pistons starters checked back in. They were once again able to build a comfortable lead, but the bench unit of Mike Muscala, Monte Morris, and Alec Burks couldn’t find the bottom of the net to keep the offense fluid. A Cunningham three pointer closed the second quarter to put the Pistons up by two, 63-61, at the half.

Washington was able to again take advantage of the Pistons lack of bench productivity in the third, taking a slim lead when Detroit’s starters came out of the game. But the decisive fourth quarter became the key. After being tied at 89-89, the Pistons managed to make just four shot over the final 10:51 of the game.

After the game, Cunningham said the team abandoned its “team-ball” mentality in favor of iso ball early in the second half and just lost their way.

“I think to start the half, we played too much one-on-one ball. Things like that are tough. I felt like we were moving the ball well, but we just weren’t hitting shots,” he said.

He added that he could’ve been much sharper, as he committed seven of the team’s 17 turnovers, but that he felt good playing 34 minutes in his return.

The Pistons cannot lament today’s loss, as the team has a quick turnaround with the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder coming to town for another matinee matchup on Sunday, Jan. 27. The game, which was supposed to tip off at 7 p.m., will start at 2 p.m. Start time was moved to accommodate the Detroit Lions’ kickoff time in the NFC Championship.

“It’s an NBA skill to be able to flush what you need to, but learn the formula and keep it as far as getting ready for tomorrow. We cannot come out with that kind of energy and expect to win a game,” Williams said.

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