Unusual lineup helps Pistons stop Wizards' rally

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have been forced into several strange lineup combinations due to a rash of injuries this season.

One of their oddest-looking lineups helped them to a victory over Washington on Sunday.

With Richard Hamilton sidelined since the first week of the season because of an ankle injury, Ben Gordon slowed by his own ankle problem, and Rodney Stuckey in foul trouble, the Pistons went with 6-foot-11 rookie Austin Daye at shooting guard in the second half.

The move worked. Daye hit all five of his attempts from the floor and finished with 11 points to help the Pistons held off a rally for a 98-94 win over the Wizards.

"We knew Ben didn't have anything for us tonight -- I give him a lot of credit for trying -- but it was in our best interest to give Austin an opportunity and he really came through," said Pistons coach John Kuester. "He made some big plays when we were struggling to score."

Gordon came in when Stuckey picked up his fourth foul, but was obviously limited by the sprained ankle.

"It's part of the game, and it is something I'm going to have to deal with," Gordon said. "We've got a day off tomorrow, and that will help a lot."

Gordon was quite impressed with Daye's performance at guard.

"He pretty much came in and changed the complexion of the game," Gordon said. "We needed something, so it was great for a young guy to come in and make that kind of contribution."

Daye helped the Pistons' reserves outscore the starters 54-44, with help from Charlie Villanueva (18 points) and Will Bynum (16).

"We had a lot of energy from the guys coming off the bench -- Kwame Brown gave us 13 good minutes, plus we get the instant offense from Charlie and Will," Kuester said. "This team is definitely learning how to grind out games. Our next step is to take that effort onto the road."

Stuckey had 25 points for Detroit, which led by as many as 12 in the first half before Washington pulled to 52-49 on Earl Boykins' leaning jumper at the halftime buzzer.

Caron Butler had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Boykins scored 18 for the Wizards, who lost in coach Flip Saunders' first game at the Palace since being fired by Detroit after the 2007-08 season.

"The only guy that seems to be saving us right now is Earl," Saunders said. "He's keeping us in games. He doesn't really want to be that guy, but when the other guys don't have it, he steps up."

Gilbert Arenas scored just eight points in 32 minutes. He missed six of his nine shots, including all four 3-point attempts.

"The building was cold tonight and I just didn't get into a rhythm," said Arenas. "I never really got into the flow of the game, and I didn't want to force anything because I wasn't into it."

The Wizards pulled even several times in the third quarter, but Daye had seven points in the period as the Pistons took a 71-69 lead into the fourth.

Another Daye basket made it 77-69 with eight minutes left, and after Boykins hit a 3-pointer, Villanueva answered with a 4-point play to give Detroit a nine-point lead.

The Wizards got as close as one, but Detroit hit enough shots to hang on.

"There's just a lack of aggression out there," Saunders said. "It's a matter of playing basketball and reading things. We held them to a low field goal percentage, but turnovers killed us."

Game notes
Boykins, who played at nearby Eastern Michigan, has had his two highest scoring games of the season against the Pistons -- 20 and 18 points. ... Jason Maxiell was the only active Piston who played in multiple seasons for Saunders in Detroit. Ben Wallace played in the first of his three years and Stuckey played in the last.