7:00 PM ET, October 13, 2009
7:00 PM ET, October 13, 2009
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Flip Saunders was facing the Detroit Pistons for the first time since being fired by the team he led to the Eastern Conference finals three straight seasons.
But for the new Washington Wizards coach, the memories of being with the Pistons from 2005-08 remain extremely pleasant.
"I had a lot of great times although we didn't have the success we would have liked to have had in winning a championship," Sanders said after his new team beat his old one 101-98 in an NBA preseason game Tuesday night at Van Andel Arena. "Outside of that, we had a lot of success."
Gilbert Arenas, who was fined $25,000 by the NBA earlier in the day for not making himself available to the media, scored 24 points to the Wizards.
The NBA fined the Wizards organization $25,000 for not ensuring that its players follow the league's media interview rules.
After the game, Arenas twice declined to comment on his fine.
"Both teams played hard," he said in the locker room. "I feel fine."
Arenas was 9 of 11 from the field and played nearly 28 minutes.
"I've been impressed with his work ethic. That's never been a question," Saunders said. "He wants to be a great player. He's been good when he decides he wants to show a little bit of flash and he can dominate for a few minutes."
In his three seasons with the Pistons, Saunders had a 176-70 record but he was let go by team president Joe Dumars after the 2007-08 season.
"My regret is that we didn't win the whole thing," Saunders said. "From a standpoint of being in the city, Joe gave me a great opportunity and he always did whatever he could do to try to better our team and try to win a championship. The one thing Joe always talks about is that championships is what it's all about.
"There's a lot of things I learned in Detroit that I've brought to Washington with the idea it will give your players a better opportunity to have success," Saunders said.
"In this business, you're going to play against a lot of people that you played with previously," Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said of his former coach. "It was fun."
Antawn Jamison added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards (2-2), who led 46-45 at halftime. Arenas scored 13 points in the third quarter as Washington opened a a 75-68 lead.
Will Bynum scored 23 points for the Pistons (3-1).
Ben Gordon gave the Pistons a 91-90 lead with 3:30 to play, but the Wizards, led by Mike Miller's 3-pointer went on a 7-1 run over the next 2 minutes to take control. Miller had a steal late in the game to secure the victory.
Hamilton scored 10 of the Pistons' first 12 points in a first quarter that ended in a 27-27 tie.
"That's what the preseason is all about, giving the young players a chance to play," Pistons coach John Kuester said.
Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince sustained a cut under his right toe and did not play in the second half.