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The Wizards Girls perform during a time-out in the first half of the Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards game played at the Verizon Center in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Harry E. Walker/MCT)

Pistons turn back the Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The offensive stat line isn't pretty at all.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope couldn't buy a bucket Saturday night, going 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point land against the Washington Wizards.

He must have been buried on the bench, right?

Wrong.

Caldwell-Pope played a team-high 41 minutes, and his two key defensive plays in the last 3:11 helped the Pistons (17-23) to a much-needed, 104-98 victory.

He smacked away a John Wall lay-up from behind with 3:11 left to preserve a 95-90 lead. And his strip of a driving Martell Webster with 14.9 seconds left and the Pistons leading by four sent the Verizon Center crowd home disappointed.

One night after he was overshadowed by Trey Burke's big game with the Utah Jazz at the Palace, he helped limit Wizards snipers Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal to a combined 3-for-31 from the field.

Not too many players in the league can get 40-plus minutes on such a bad offensive night.

"He guarded Beal very well, and that block coming down the stretch of the game," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When you're guarding a player like Beal, you got to keep the pressure on him because he can break open for a three and get his game going easily.

"But I thought that the pressure that he put on Beal, limiting his three-point shots, Trevor Ariza, limiting his three-point shots. I thought that was very key."

Despite the embarrassment of the Friday night's 21-point thumping at home by the Jazz, the Pistons (17-23) have quietly won three of four and moved to a confounding 10-10 away from the Palace.

There were several heroes. Rodney Stuckey scored 13 points in the first-half on his way to 20 points. And Kyle Singler scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Andre Drummond scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

But it was Josh Smith who carried the day in the second half, with 20 points after struggling with only two points in the first.

Just three weeks ago, Smith was benched for the entire second half in a 24-point loss at Washington. But Smith had a rare good shooting night from outside, in going 8-for-11 in the second half.

"It's just something I had to build within myself, knowing that my shots weren't falling for me," Smith said of his mindset at halftime. "But I wanted to stay positive and stay aggressive, and it was able to go down for me in the second half."

The Pistons were also able to overcome an early 10-point deficit and 34 points by Wizards star John Wall. They eventually held the Wizards (19-20) below 50% shooting and limited them to 2-for-11 shooting from three-point land in the second half.

(c)2014 Detroit Free Press

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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PISTONS


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