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Wizards Put Spell On Pistons


Jeff McInnis grew up in a hurry.

Two nights after making two critical fourth-quarter turnovers against the Detroit Pistons in his first NBA start, the Washington Wizards point guard faced the same team and kept his cool throughout. McInnis went 8-for-10 from the field and scored a career-high 19 points in the Wizards' 97-87 victory Wednesday.

"When they made the run, we didn't roll over, whereas in the past that might have happened," said Washington assistant coach Jim Brovelli, who took over when Bernie Bickerstaff was ejected for arguing a call in the first quarter. "We got settled in our offense, and that's a credit to Jeff."

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  • McInnis, starting while Rod Strickland nurses a groin injury, also had five assists and just one turnover and withstood the full-court pressure as the Pistons cut into a 21-point second-half deficit. The Wizards, who fell apart in the fourth quarter in a 75-71 loss at Detroit on Monday, have won four of their past six.

    "My confidence level was different from the other night," McInnis said. "I came in with a different comfort zone. I felt like the team was mine to run, and I ran it tonight."

    Brovelli, a former assistant at Denver, said McInnis was a lot more mature than when he played 13 games for the Nuggets in the 1996-97 season.

    McInnis agreed.

    "In my younger days , I'd get fouled and complain about it to the refs for two or three plays," McInnis said. "Now, I just let everything go. I just feel like I grew up as a man."

    Juwan Howard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards. Mitch Richmond scored 18 points.

    Washington and Ben Wallace bullied Detroit down low.>
    Washington and Ben Wallace bullied Detroit down low. (AP)

    The Pistons, losing for only the second time in nine games, lost because their second quarter was about as miserable as Washington's fourth quarter on Monday. Detroit scored just 12 points -- six off dunks -- in the period, missing 14 of 20 shots and botching the simplest of passes to commit six turnovers.

    Grant Hill and Joe Dumars were non-factors in the quarter -- and for most of the game. Dumars, averaging 14.3 points, didn't even take a shot until the third period and went 0-for-4 and scoreless for the game against Richmond's tough defense.

    "Mcinnis was really good tonight after having a rough game up at our place," coach Alvin Gentry said. "We were awful defensively. We just didn't make any stops, and they made us pay almost every time. They mixed it up so we couldn't double-team Juwan, and he took advantage."

    Howard scored seven points in an 19-2 run late in the first half as the Wizards took a 50-32 lead. The Pistons made a modest run in the fourth quarter, but couldn't close the gap to single digits.

    The Pistons, the leading 3-point shooting team in the NBA, went just 2-for-14 behind the arc. Hill led Detroit with 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting.

    Bickerstaff, who has not had many kind words for the officiating this season, got fed up early this time. After the Wizards picked up their fourth foul -- to none for the Pistons -- Bickerstaff yelled, "That's a bad call" and was given a double technical and ejected with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter and the Wizards trailing 20-18.

    The next time down the court, Eric Montross was called for the Pistons' first foul to give Howard a 3-point play, and the Wizards started pulling away soon after.

    "They threw coach out for basically questioning a call, and we felt like that was it," McInnis said. "Let's pick it up and get this victory for coach."

    Notes

    • Strickland will miss Thursday's game at New York, but might play Friday against Charlotte.
    • Washington's Jahidi White dressed for the first time since spraining his right knee March 1, but only played the final minute.
    • Detroit's Korleone Young , sidelined since the start of the season with back spasms, was activated from the injured list and scored five points in his NBA debut.
    • It was the second time this season Dumars had ben held scoreless.
    • The Wizards had no turnovers in first quarter and only three by the half.
    • Pistons center Bison Dele was ejected by referee Marc Davis after getting his second technical foul late in the third, and was baffled by the decision. "He called he for reading his mind," Dele said.

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