WASHINGTON - In a rebuilding season for the Washington Wizards, coach Scott Brooks still closely monitors the standings, and while it's unlikely, he still believes his team has a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
The Wizards began the second half of the season by beating one of the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal scored 29 points, Ian Mahinmi added 21 and Washington broke a three-game losing streak with a 106-100 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
Beal passed Wes Unseld for fourth place on the team's career scoring list.
Washington is 14-26, but the Brooklyn Nets, who hold the eighth spot in the East, are only 18-24 after their loss to Philadelphia on Monday. Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte are also ahead of Washington.
“I watch the games. I watch the standings,” Brooks said. “We're not talking about it. We're just going to try to get better every game."
The Wizards' hopes have been damaged by a spate of injuries to key players, but as those players return, Brooks gets more optimistic.
“The seventh and eighth seed, their records aren't great, but I'm sure somebody's going to surprise somebody and probably jump up there,” Brooks said.
In Beal's first seven seasons, he's played in the postseason four times.
“That's the goal,” Beal said. “That's every day for us. That's in the back of my head. Especially when (the) All-Star (break) hits, that second half is just flying. We've got to tighten up.”
Derrick Rose led Detroit with 21 points while Andre Drummond had 18 points and 16 rebounds. The Pistons were trying to three games in a row for the first time this season.
“We lost this game defensively, bro,” Rose said. “Second half, we just let them get anywhere on the court that they wanted.”
Drummond had a season-high nine turnovers.
“We can't have our center having nine turnovers,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We want him to get the ball in to Rose. He's got to make decisions, and he's done a good job of that, but tonight he did not. And normally he and our bigs do a good job of catching it, kicking it out and making a play and not turning it over.”
There were 10 lead changes, four in succession early in the fourth quarter, and Davis Bertans' 3-pointer with 9:02 to play gave the Wizards the lead for good. Washington scored nine straight to take a 95-87 lead two minutes later.
Pistons: G Reggie Jackson, who hasn't played since the second game of the season because of a back injury, should be able to play this week, Casey said. “He's been practicing dunking on people and talking more than anybody else.” ... In advance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Pistons visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sunday night. ... Detroit has lost 10 straight at Washington.
Wizards: C Anzejs Pasecniks sprained his left ankle in practice Sunday and missed the game. ... G Jordan McRae, who twisted his left ankle early in Friday's loss at Toronto, scored seven points. ... G Garrison Mathews (ankle) missed his sixth straight game and will likely miss another two weeks, Brooks said.
Detroit's Markieff Morris was ejected from the game with 7:06 to play when he tangled with Bertans and hit him in the head. Morris was assessed a Flagrant 2. After the game, Bertans wasn't sure what happened.
“He's the only one who can answer that question,” Bertans said. “I have no clue what that was.”
Casey didn't dispute the call.
“Markieff was probably warranted (in being) tossed out,” Casey said. “He hit the guy in the head.”
Morris declined to comment on the incident.
Besides his turnovers, Drummond lost a front tooth in the game's final minute. Morris broke a toenail during the game, he said.
Pistons: Begin a four-game homestand against Sacramento on Wednesday.
Wizards: Begin a four-game road trip against Miami on Wednesday.