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DC Refresh (Pistons at Wizards; 02.14.22)

Jenny Rohl/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON — The trade deadline saw the Era of Good Feelings officially end for the Washington Wizards, a once-promising season turned into one where assets were moved at the deadline in a look toward the future. They hope the immediate future looks a lot like Monday night’s contest: one with much more cohesion and purpose in a march back up the Eastern Conference standings.

Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points, including 17 in the third quarter, as the Washington Wizards pulled away from the Detroit Pistons 103-94 at Capital One Arena on Monday night. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 while Deni Avdija put up 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as they extended the Pistons’ losing streak to eight games.

The 2021 portion of Washington’s season was one of exceeding expectations, as the Wizards started the season 10-3 and did not spend a day under .500 heading into 2022. After a three-game winning streak in the middle of January against teams residing toward the bottom of the NBA standings (two vs. Orlando, Oklahoma City), the Wizards lost eight of 11 games, including a home defeat on Jan. 25 against the Clippers in which Washington blew a 35-point lead and, after the game, had star player Bradley Beal wondering aloud where the direction of the team was going.

The direction GM Tommy Sheppard took soon after was one where retooling was necessary, as players such as Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell were dealt before the trade deadline. Beal, also in the middle of trade talks, suffered a wrist injury that required season-ending surgery.

Kuzma, who came over in the offseason as part of a trade involving Russell Westbrook, had flourished as a go-to player this season, and he came through tonight as one of six players in double figures in scoring for Washington.

“Just the commitment to playing the right way, that’s super, super important,” Kuzma said. “For most of the season, we haven’t necessarily done that for multiple games, and I think over these past three games, it’s been really refreshing to play this way.”

In his first game since the Pistons acquired him from Sacramento, Marvin Bagley III had 10 points. Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 24 points while Cade Cunningham, the NBA rookie leader in scoring, was in foul trouble early and ended up with only 12 points.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday evening’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are eight pictures in total.

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