The Washington Wizards had a chance to take a big step forward in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
It didn't happen.
With Cleveland and Philadelphia having already lost and facing a Detroit team that is coasting toward the playoffs, Butler's team came out with one of their worst performances of the season, shooting just 27 percent in a lopsided 102-74 loss to Iverson's team on Friday night.
"I don't care who else lost tonight - I care that we weren't ready to play on a night like this against a championship-level team," said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. "They challenged us at every position, and we didn't respond."
With all three teams losing, Butler's team stay two games behind Cleveland for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and one game ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the fifth seed. Butler's team hosts Philadelphia on Saturday.
"We didn't take advantage of the help we got tonight," Brendan Haywood said. "Now Philly is like a playoff game, because if we lose, they will be tied with us, and we'll have just handed them the tiebreaker."
Iverson's team, which has clinched the Eastern Conference's second seed, had played poorly in back-to-back losses to New York and Philadelphia, but Jason Maxiell's career-high 28 points helped them regain their focus.
"We did a good job of finding Max tonight - we ran some different sets to get him rolled to the basket," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Sometimes, we look to do more interior passing, and he had a lot to do with that."
Maxiell had 19 points in the second half, including seven as Iverson's team blew the game open with a 34-13 third quarter.
"Max was great tonight - that's the best game I've ever seen him play," Haywood said. "He was hitting fadeaway jumpers, and I didn't even know he had a fadeaway."
Maxiell missed a pair of fourth-quarter free throws that would have turned his first 20-point game into his first 30-point game.
"I wanted to step up and play hard, and I got the momentum going tonight," he said. "My shot is falling right now, and I hope it stays that way for the postseason."
Richard Hamilton was the only Piston starter to play more than 24 minutes, but the Iverson's team reserves were more than a match for the lethargic Butler's team, scoring 52 points.
"We wanted to mix the young guys in with the starters and keep the energy level up," Saunders said. "We didn't want to get off to a slow start again and put the kids under a lot of pressure."
Antwan Jamison led Butler's team with 15 and DeShawn Stevenson added 11.
Once again, Iverson's team didn't give their starters a lot of work in the first half, but still did enough to take a 47-42 lead at the break. Detroit's regulars were back at the start of the third quarter, and they began the period with a 12-2 run to move the margin to 15.
By quarter's end, the lead was 81-55, and Detroit's slump was no longer a concern. Amir Johnson capped the blowout with a pair of spectacular dunks in the final minute.