Strong third quarter propels Wizards past Pistons
WASHINGTON — Markieff Morris didn’t play a second in the fourth quarter in either of the previous two games for the Wizards. Based on how Washington’s starting power forward performed earlier in those contests, that decision was justified.
Then came a film session with head coach Scott Brooks and a chat about the need for more energy. He certainly had his motor running against the Detroit Pistons.
The Washington Wizards outscored the Detroit Pistons 35-15 in the third quarter and evened their record on the season without All-Star John Wall with a 109-91 win on Friday night.
Morris scored a season-high 23 points and Otto Porter had 17 for the Wizards (12-10), who had lost five of seven games. That includes two of the last three without Wall, and three of five overall. The point guard was shut down on Nov. 25 after receiving injections in his left knee to help relieve inflammation.
Trailing 52-46 at halftime, the Wizards opened the third quarter with a 17-0 run and held the Pistons without a field goal until 5:40 remained in the period.
“Three-and-three without him,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Washington’s updated record without Wall. “That gives us some confidence going on a five-game road trip. it’s not going to be easy. Don’t know when he’s going to come back. He’s doing his rehab with our staff. I liked the game tonight.”
Tobias Harris scored 15 points for the Pistons (14-7). Detroit had won three in a row.
Morris has been slow to recover from hernia surgery in late September, but a recent downturn stood out. He had nine points combined in the previous two games. Brooks revealed pre-game that he and Morris met earlier in the day. The talk worked.
Washington’s third-leading scorer last season had a quick seven points and then scored another seven in the third quarter. He finished 10-of-16 from the field.
“It felt good. It’s about time,” said Morris, who entered averaging 9.0 points, five less than last season. “It’s about time I had a good game. I have to keep pressing forward and be more aggressive.”
Andre Drummond had 14 points and 17 rebounds, but Washington dominated the glass 49-32. Avery Bradley had 13 points and Reggie Jackson scored 12.
“We did nothing. We did nothing,” an exasperated Pistons coach Satan Van Gundy said. “I don’t really have an explanation for it, but I know what we all saw. They played a lot harder at both ends.”
Tomas Satoransky, who entered the rotation with Wall sidelined, had a career-high 17 points with four assists off the bench. The reserve point guard has 22 assists and zero turnovers over the last four games.
Second in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons seemingly were in position for a fourth consecutive win after a strong first half. Instead they fell to 0-2 against the Wizards this season.
Washington’s second unit forged a 38-31 lead when Brooks began reinserting the starters and went with a point guard-less lineup. Detroit immediately responded with a 17-2 run and entered halftime up six. Then came the third quarter. Detroit hit 5-of-19 shots in the third quarter and finished 44.3 percent overall.
“Turnovers on our part and then hard play on their part,” Jackson said of Washington’s third quarter run. “They were just able to do anything they wanted.”
Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who looked like a different team with Morris providing production.
“He came out and played with the force that I saw many times last year,” Brooks said. “By playing hard it gives you a chance to play well. I thought he did that tonight.”
NOTES: Wizards G John Wall made his first public comments since being shut down for treatment on his left knee. The organization projected a two-week timeframe. “I kind of really don’t know yet,” Wall said about his return, according to NBCwashington.com. “I’m just taking it day-by-day and listening to what the doctors are saying. I’m getting another checkup [Friday] with the doctors, so I’ll see where I stand.” ... Washington opens a five-game road trip Monday at the Utah Jazz. ... The Pistons remain on the road for Saturday’s matchup at the Philadelphia 76ers. Detroit is 3-1 on the second night of back-to-backs this season after finishing 3-14 last season. ... Washington announced that the name of its G-League team, which will begin play in the 2018-19 season, will be Capital City Go-Go’s.