It was a tale of two halves for Smith, who went 0 for 6 from the field in the first two quarters and then scored 20 in the second half. He also had eight boards for the NBA's top rebounding squad.
Washington pushed its edge to 12 early in the third quarter. Smith then scored 12 points in the period to help Detroit move back ahead, 79-76.
"Stuckey and Smith really hurt us in the second half," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "I think Smith went for 20 and we had a tough matchup there the whole night."
Martell Webster had 15 points and Marcin Gortat added 10 points and 12 rebounds for Washington, which will play its next two at home in an effort to achieve the elusive winning record.
"It's crazy, we're trying to get over that hump," Webster said. "That's the thing about this league, it gives you 82 chances."
NOTES: Washington reserve Trevor Booker went to the locker room early in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and didn't return. ... After sitting out the last two games, Jan Vesely was pressed into service and gave the Wizards a lift in the second quarter with six of his seven points. He also hit his first free throw since Dec. 2 ending a streak of 14 misses. ... Washington had reached the .500 mark two other times this season, but followed with losing streaks of four and three games, with only one of those games away from Verizon Center. ... The teams split the four-game season series. Detroit hasn't lost a series to Washington since 2005-06.