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Wizards stumble and fall in 106-95 loss against Pistons

The Wizards played some of their worst basketball of the year in the third quarter

NBA: Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards can’t get out of their own way. They took a one point lead into the half against the Pistons, up 55-54. Then everything fell apart.

Jeff Green immediately picked up his fourth foul seconds into the Wizards’ first defensive possession, then Blake Griffin hit a three. Then the Pistons stole the ball. Then Bruce Brown hit a three. And after that, it felt like rinse, wash and repeat until you looked at the scoreboard and realized the Pistons had outscored the Wizards 23-2 to start the third quarter.

That was the game’s turning point. It was tug-of-war until that point with 11 lead changes through the first two periods and then Washington just lost control. The Pistons built a lead as high as 22 points. It took the Wizards more than six minutes in the third period to score more than two points.

The Wizards clawed their way back, getting the game back within three points after Trevor Ariza caught fire from deep with five 3-pointers in the 2nd half. But, like always, the hole they dug was just too deep to climb out of. Now, here we sit, with even the eighth seed in the depths of the lowly Eastern Conference looking like a lofty goal for this wretched team.

Takeaways

The Wizards are still plagued by the turnover bug

The Wizards had 16 turnovers tonight and a ton of them came in the third quarter when the Pistons made their run. Detroit got runout after runout from misguided dribbles, bad passes and all-around bad plays.

Wall had six turnovers himself despite having eight assists, and his passes in the last few games have just been so off target. Bradley Beal, when he does dribble, has looked like a newborn fawn unable to keep its balance.

These issues have followed the Wizards during this latest skid. If you’re not going to rebound the ball well, you’ve at least got to get shots up. If the Wizards are wasting possessions, they’ll never win games.

Markieff Morris is a problem and not in a good way

Saying Morris wasn’t good tonight is an understatement. In 36 minutes, he had 12 points on 12 shots with just four makes. He had just six rebounds and three fouls. He was a sieve on defense and a key part to the Pistons’ 23-2 run after subbing in for Jeff Green.

The experiment with him as a small ball center needs to be left in Detroit. He’s not stretchy enough to make centers guard him on the perimeter and he can’t protect the rim or rebound.

His floor awareness is poor — he gave up an off-ball foul on Andre Drummond when the Pistons were in the bonus late in the fourth quarter in the midst of a good defensive possession. Drummond hit the free throws to put the Pistons up seven. There are too many instances where Morris makes little plays like this. He’ll pick up a tech or foul someone with no real cause or reason. He won’t box out. He’s inconsistent in the post. He’s not an OK passer. There’s just no real role for him right now. He either has to figure it out or he just can’t pay.

The 8th seed seems like a lofty goal now

The Wizards are 4.5 games behind the Pistons for the 8th seed and a spot in the postseason, but they just got throttled by the Pistons in Detroit. They’re not a good road team and they’ve only got two matchups against the Pistons left this season. Those games will be huge and tonight’s effort shouldn’t give Wizards’ fans any confidence that they can get the job done.

But wait, there’s more. Let’s forget the Pistons as part of this equation. The two teams ahead of the Wizards right now, who sit at 11th in the conference, are the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets. The Wizards can only tie the Nets in their season series now having already lost to them twice. They’ve also lost to the Magic once already. Catching them is no guarantee.

And once we arrive there, we have to remind ourselves, we’re trying to tie some of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference for the 8th seed at the bottom of a conference that is mediocre at best and should be relegated to the G-League at worst. The East is better, but it’s also top heavy still. And the Wizards have barely played the teams at the top.

This was a team that we were talking about could be vying for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals just two seasons ago. Now the playoffs are a question? We’re running on the treadmill of mediocrity, folks. Things are just fine.