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Pistons play three solid quarters - which isn’t enough

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The Pistons almost completed the comeback, but were doomed by poor defensive effort in the pivotal third quarter

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons played a solid game against the Washington Wizards. The Wizards were the No. 4 seed in the East last season, and the Pistons looked like they belonged right with them in the first half. They led 65-58 at halftime, and it was the high number of turnovers for the Pistons that kept them from being up by 15 or 20 points.

They were moving the ball and hitting their threes. Andre Drummond was playing exactly how you’d want him to play, with nine points and 10 rebounds in the half. Stanley Johnson also finally hit his first shot of the season for the Pistons’ first basket of the game. Rookie Luke Kennard looked like a seasoned vet, going 5-6 from the field for 11 points with two assists.

The Pistons played handsy defense, generating a lot of turnovers like they did against Charlotte in the first half. They looked like they’d cruise to a win as long as they cut back on the turnovers in the second half.

Then came the third quarter...

The Pistons went away from the things that were working and Washington took advantage of it. The Pistons offered no resistance on defense, as the Wizards ran layup lines to the basket, then used their dribble penetration to kick out for wide-open threes. Washington didn’t make any threes in the first half - and then promptly made their next five in the third quarter.

Washington built their lead up to 15 points at one point, as John Wall took over and Otto Porter continued his dominant play from the first half. The Wizards were rolling to the finish.

Then came the fourth quarter...

The beginning of the quarter was nothing special for the Pistons as it looked like Washington was going to put the game away. After Andre Drummond fouled out with nine minutes left in the quarter, the Pistons stepped up and turned it on. A 9-0 run sparked by Reggie Jackson got the Pistons back within striking distance. He had seven points during that run, and we had ourselves a ballgame.

The Pistons would ride the hot hands of Reggie Jackson and Avery Bradley on both ends of the court. With the game tied up at 111, Avery Bradley created a steal and appeared to be hacked across the arm while driving to the basket. The refs did not call a foul, but they did say it was Detroit ball - only to overturn the call after review. Unfortunately, referees cannot call a foul while reviewing a play, but the uncalled foul definitely caused the ball to go off of Bradley. With the blown call, it was Washington ball, and they would score to put the game away.

It was a tough loss for Detroit, but they fought to the final buzzer against one of the better teams in the East. Reggie Jackson stepped up in the fourth quarter like he did in the 2015-16 season, and the effort of he and Bradley defensively was a nice sight to see.

This game should be a learning experience for the Pistons. Yes, the officiating could have been better. However, if they had played four complete quarters, we would be talking about their impressive win over the Wizards.

Instead, a poor third quarter, caused by the Pistons dropping their effort level on both sides of the ball, has cost them a 2-0 start to the season. Fortunately, they have the opportunity to show that they’ve learned the lesson from this game tomorrow night against the New York Knicks in New York.