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Point-guard matchup key in Wizards-Pistons game
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards looked like a playoff contender on offense in their season-opening win. So did the Detroit Pistons.
The Wizards, a 49-win team last season, opened the 2017-18 campaign with a 120-115 home victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. The same night, the Pistons, who won 37 games last year, kicked off the season with a 102-90 home win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Detroit and Washington meet Friday in the second game of the season at Capital One Arena.
The Wizards trailed 59-56 at halftime against the 76ers, but Washington controlled the third quarter and then fended off the young Philadelphia squad late.
Washington point guard John Wall didn't make a high percentage of his shots (10 of 28 overall), but scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half.
"We just locked in. They played more aggressive than us in that (second) quarter and that's the reason why they took the lead from us," Wall said. "From the third quarter, Brad (Beal) got going, I kinda got going, we pushed the pace and started playing our team defense, and that's why we were able to get a lead."
Beal finished with 25 points, and Washington center Marcin Gortat had 17 rebounds and 16 points, including 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"He can score because he has good hands," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Gortat. "With either hand, jump hook. He's a pick-and-roll all the way to the basket. That's how he got his buckets (Wednesday). That was huge, those points the fourth quarter."
Washington prevailed despite shooting just 43.3 percent on field-goal attempts.
"The most important thing is we got a win," Gortat said.
Wall said of the 76ers, "No matter if they're a young team or not, those are games you kind of want to take away from them and don't give them any confidence. They gave us a great test."
The Pistons had an easier time in their opener against the Hornets. Tobias Harris led Detroit with 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Langston Galloway scored 16 points off the bench, Avery Bradley had 15 points in his Pistons debut, and Andre Drummond pulled down 13 rebounds.
"The thing with Langston and even Tobias tonight I was happy with, is if you're open, shoot the ball," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "That's the way you've got to play."
Detroit received a huge lift from guard Reggie Jackson, who battled injuries last year. The point guard had 13 points and eight assists with zero turnovers in 27 minutes of playing time.
"It was just an emotional moment for myself and him," Drummond said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Just to have him back is exciting for me. It's good to have him back."
The Wall-Jackson matchup is one to watch. How the Wizards fare at power forward is another point of interest. Washington's Jason Smith is day-to-day with a shoulder injury after Smith replaced Markieff Morris (hernia surgery) in the starting lineup for the opener.
Updated October 20, 2017