Washington Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe watches against the...

Washington Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe watches against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Paul Sancya

DETROIT — Kyle Kuzma scored 30 points and Washington beat the Detroit Pistons 118-104 on Saturday in a matchup of the NBA's worst teams for Brian Keefe’s first victory in two games as the Wizards' interim coach.

Keefe lost in his debut Thursday night, hours after Wes Unseld Jr. was moved to the Wizards’ front office.

“This is obviously very cool, and the best part is the way we played defense,” Keefe said. “Two days ago, we talked about having to become a better defensive team, and we did a good job today. There’s a long way to go, but these are the habits we have to build.”

Jordan Poole added 17 points and Daniel Gafford had 15 points and 13 rebounds to help Washington end a six-game losing streak. The Wizards improved to 8-37, avenging a home loss to Detroit on Jan. 15. The Pistons are 5-40.

Kuzma, from Flint, played in front of family and friends.

“I just want to play well in front of my mom,” Kuzma said. “I always have a lot of fans here, so I get juiced to play here.”

Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 30 points. Cade Cunningham added 20 points and 12 assists in his return from a knee injury, and Jalen Duren had 10 points and 18 rebounds.

Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) dunks against the Detroit...

Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) dunks against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Paul Sancya

“We lacked poise and execution,” coach Monty Williams said. “There were times where we were down two or three points and it felt like 20. We weren’t doing the things we should have done.”

The Wizards led 102-98 with 5:20 left, and Poole made it a seven-point game with a 3-pointer. Detroit came up empty on its next two possessions, and Kuzma dunked to make it 107-98 with four minutes left. Bogdanovic's three-point play got Detroit within six, but Kuzma made a 3-pointer for a 111-101 lead with 2:42 to go.

“They had 16 offensive rebounds after we killed them on the boards last time,” Cunningham said. “In transition, we gave up too many layups and a part of that is live-ball turnovers. I had too many turnovers, and it is hard to come back from that.”

The Wizards had five offensive rebounds in the fourth and held Detroit to 28.6% shooting, including 0-8 from behind the arc.

Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives on Washington Wizards...

Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives on Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Paul Sancya

“We owed these guys from last time — that wasn't a game that was up to our standards,” Kuzma said. “This is our new standard, the way we communicated on defense and how hard we worked.”

The game started at noon so Little Caesars Arena could be converted for an night hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights.

UP NEXT

Wizards: At the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.

Pistons: Host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday in a game moved up to finish before the Lions play the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

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