For three quarters, the game was going just as I had originally feared: the Wizards were hanging around close enough to ultimately steal a rare one at The Palace just before the All-Star break and increase their winning streak to five games. The Wizards led by three going into the fourth quarter, but it felt like more than that. The Pistons, as a team, seemed about as out of it as they did during Monday's loss.
But two minutes into the fourth quarter, down five, Lawrence Frank decided to roll with his bench's energizer bunny, Will Bynum, and some fresh meat in Viacheslav Kravtsov, Ktrl-V. Bynum would go on to score 10 of the Pistons' next 17 points, assisting on six of those other seven points he dared not score.
Four of those six Bynum assisted came on a three-and-one by Charlie Villanueva, who took quite a shot to his left eye while putting it in the eye of the Wizards. (After the game, CV31 said he had terrible pain and could barely open it.)
Ktrl-V had a key steal on the very next possession and punctuated the Pistons' 11-0 run by Ukramming down a ViachesLOB from Bynum, putting the Pistons up 76-70.
Although it felt like the game was over after the Slava slamma -- the "shut it down, let's go home!" moment -- the Wizards scored the next six points to knot it back up. Bynum responded, though, scoring the next six to start another 11-0 run for the Pistons, and there was no coming back from that. The Wizards, who didn't score for almost a full four minutes at the beginning of the quarter, surely weren't mounting any big comeback at that point. Villanueva and Jose Calderon made a couple threes in the final two minutes to make extra sure of that.
The strong fourth, paced by Bynum's 12 points and five assists, helped the Pistons to their third win in their last four games and ended the Wizards impressive four-game winning streak. After some All Star R&R, the Pistons host a Prince's homecoming on Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
* I can't believe I didn't mention Greg Monroe above, but he had just about the quietest 16-point, 18-rebound game (!!!) I've ever seen. He was a beast in the first quarter, finishing the frame with 11 points and eight rebounds, but a lot of his rebounds were of the tip-to-himself variety (not that that's a bad thing), so it felt mostly like he was just 'on' offensively. Then he only scored five points the rest of the game. Also, Emeka Okafor scored 20 points.
* Monroe's 8th straight double double is the most in a row by a Piston since Grant Hill in 1996. As MFMP pointed out in the comments, Bill Laimbeer appears to have the team record (dating back to 1985-1986) with 10.
* Pistons are now 14-12 since beating the Wizards on back-to-back nights earlier this year.
* Calderon wasn't feeling it at point guard, so he tried out (and got the nod) at shooting guard. Kidding, but he was 6 for 9 behind the long line and scored 24 despite only having three assists opposite four turnovers. It didn't help his point guardy numbers that his fellow starters shot a combined 13-35.
* Kyle Singler's 12 points and seven rebounds should not go unappreciated.
* Speaking of fellow starters, Knight has been out of his element. He'll have time to practice during the break as the LONE Pistons representative in this weekend's activities. Basketball life ain't fair.
* Stuckey was 0 for 7. 2 more and he turns into 50 cent.
* Ktrl-V doesn't move all that well, he doesn't "roll" on P&Rs, and he can't rebound, but he did have a couple dunks, a block and a steal in over 13 minutes.
* Roll Call
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