WASHINGTON — For the Washington Wizards to become the surprise team in the Eastern Conference that they believe they can be, they’ll rest a good chunk of those hopes on the back of superstar guard Bradley Beal. Excusing the metaphor, Beal’s back literally gave him fits all night on Tuesday, but his teammates had his back in the decisive moments that put the game away for Washington.
Kyle Kuzma paced the Wizards with 25 points, one of five players to score in double figures for Washington, in their 120-99 victory over the Pistons at Capital One Arena. Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points while new acquisition Will Barton chipped in off the bench with 16 points, four assists and four three-pointers.
Beal, averaging 23 points in the team’s first three games, left the game in the first quarter with back tightness and missed all of the second quarter. Despite that, Washington was able to maintain a seven-point lead, 56-49, heading into halftime before stretching things out in the third while, going on a 20-10 run to begin the third quarter. Monte Morris’ three-pointer midway through the third gave the Wizards a 76-59 lead, and their lead never went below eight points the rest of the way.
Coming back into the game in the third quarter, Beal found his form in the final stanza when he scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth.
“It’s always tough to go a stretch without Brad,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “He was able to come back into the gam and kind of give us some life. The changing defenses throughout last season gave us a lot of problems. I thought we handled it a little bit better tonight.”
Bojan Bogdanovic, who played a half season in Washington as a trade deadline pickup for the Wizards in 2017, scored a season-high 25 points for the Pistons in a losing effort. Cade Cunningham had 19 points for Detroit while Isaiah Stewart had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Rodney Pierce. 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 26 pictures in total.