Wizards Secure Close One They So Desperately Needed

Finally, the Wizards were able to steal a close one. That has not been the case lately, as the close ones have been going the other way.Kyle Kuzma

But alas, they held on for a 116-113 home win over the Pistons on Tuesday. It didn’t happen until a 3-pointer from Detroit guard Killian Hayes rimmed out at the buzzer.

Why does this seemingly meaningless game matter? Because the Wizards are still fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament. Without Bradley Beal (out for the year with a wrist injury) and still without Kristaps Porzingis (still has yet to make his debut after a trade with the Mavericks).

Yet for the Wizards, all of life after the All-Star break has been about close games. This time, it turned out OK.

Kyle Kuzma led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, continuing his string of standout performances. Thomas Bryant added 16 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went for 15, Raul Neto added 13 and Daniel Gafford had 12.

Offering further evidence that this was one of the most balanced efforts of the season, rookie Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura and Ish Smith scored 11 apiece. Hachimura even went 3-of-3 on threes.

“I want [Rui] to keep shooting it,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. told reporters, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. It’s a great sign for us and also a sign of his maturity, that he’s growing.”

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 26 points, and No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham added 20 points, nine boards and five assists. But again, the Pistons (15-47) are playing for next year and beyond, and little else.

That’s something the Wizards (28-33) hope to avoid, and wins like should only assist that mission.

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