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Wizards beat Pistons, earn shot at Cavs

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Eddie Jordan is ready for a deep
breath.

The Wizards won their final three games of the regular season,
including a 96-80 win over the apathetic Detroit Pistons on
Wednesday night, and earned a first-round playoff date with LeBron
James.

"I don't even want to think about Cleveland tonight," Jordan
said. "I just want to relax and recover from the last week and a
half."

After losing five straight and nearly putting themselves out of
the postseason altogether, the Wizards finished with wins over
three playoff teams -- Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit -- to jump
back up to the fifth seed in the chaotic Eastern Conference.

"We're going into the playoffs with an edge because we really
had to be sharp the last 10 games," said Gilbert Arenas, who
finished with 18 points. "It's a whole new season, but hopefully
that'll help us."

The Wizards, who needed a win to avoid facing Miami or New
Jersey, got 33 points and 12 rebounds from Caron Butler.

"We weren't watching the scoreboard at all," he said. "Coach
told us to go out there and take care of our own business, and let
the rest take care of itself."

The top-seeded Pistons (64-18) just wanted to avoid injuries
before a first-round matchup with Milwaukee, and it showed.
Chauncey Billups watched the game in a suit and his fellow starters
were on the bench in the fourth quarter.

"Everyone is healthy and ready for the party," said Richard
Hamilton, who hit just four of 13 shots in 21 minutes. "That's
good."

Washington went 3-0 against Detroit this season, joining Utah
(2-0) as the only teams to sweep the Pistons.

Antawn Jamison added 21 points and nine rebounds for the
Wizards, who beat Chicago in last year's first round before falling
to Miami.

"Now we go to Cleveland," Butler said.

Carlos Delfino had 17 points for Detroit, but was the only
Piston to reach double figures. The Pistons dropped their final two
games, just their second losing streak of the season.

"I think I recall that we lost our last couple games in the
exhibition season, and we got off to a pretty good start with the
regular season," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said, referring to
Detroit's 47-9 start. "These guys have been there. They know that
this is when it all begins."

In the first quarter, the Pistons still looked like the team
that will open the postseason on Sunday. Even with Lindsey Hunter
replacing Billups in the lineup, Detroit led 24-19 at period's end,
holding the Wizards to 33 percent shooting.

Saunders went to the bench in the second period, however,
including little-used rookies Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, and
the Wizards rallied to take a 49-41 halftime advantage. Butler had
16 points in the half and Arenas had 11.

"It was a good learning experience for those young guys to play
a team that was basically in a must-win situation," Saunders said.

Detroit's starters kept the game close for most of the third
quarter, but by period's end they were done for the night and the
Wizards had a double-digit lead.

"They were bringing a lot of different guys off the bench, and
I just wanted our guys to stay focused," Jordan said. "You don't
want a young guy to hit a couple 3s and get going."

Washington led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.

Game notes
Tony Delk picked up a flagrant foul against Arenas late in
the second quarter, then got a technical foul for arguing. ...
Detroit's 64 wins were the most in the NBA since the Lakers went
67-15 in 1999-2000. ... The Pistons played most of the final eight
minutes with Maxiell, Johnson, fellow rookie Alex Acker, Kelvin
Cato and Delfino on the floor. ... Rasheed Wallace spent a
fourth-quarter timeout helping Detroit's mascot throw T-shirts to
the crowd.

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