Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/25

Game 1: Friday, November 25th
Game 2: Saturday, March 11th
Game 3: Wednesday, April 19th

Wizards 96

(42-40, 15-26 away)

Pistons 80

(64-18, 37-4 home)

7:30 PM ET, April 19, 2006

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 19 30 23 2496
DET 24 17 21 1880

Top Performers

WSH: C. Butler 33 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl

Det: C. Delfino 17 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

Wizards beat Pistons, earn shot at Cavs

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

Most wins by coach, first season with team
Bill Sharman,
'71-72 Lakers
(Won title)
Phil Jackson,
'99-00 Lakers
(Won title)
Flip Saunders,
'05-06 Pistons

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 96 80
FGM-FGA 37-91 (.407) 31-77 (.403)
3PM-3PA 6-25 (.240) 5-19 (.263)
FTM-FTA 16-22 (.727) 13-22 (.591)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-44 7-41
Assists 18 19
Turnovers 12 17
Steals 8 9
Blocks 2 9
Fast Break Points 9 24
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 13 (0/0) 20 (1/1)
Largest Lead 20 7

Top Performers

Caron Butler Butler
Points: 33
Reb: 12
Ast: 2
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Carlos Delfino Delfino
Points: 17
Reb: 8
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 0