NBA: Nuggets, Nikola Jokic top Pistons to end skid
Nikola Jokic piled up 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets snapped a four-game losing streak by pounding the host Detroit Pistons 119-100 on Thursday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope supplied 20 points and Jamal Murray had 19 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for Denver, which outscored the Pistons 61-36 in the second half and 33-14 in the fourth quarter.
Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon scored 15 points apiece for the Nuggets.
Rodney McGruder led the Pistons, who have lost 13 of their last 14 games, with 20 points. He added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jalen Duren had 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals off the bench, while James Wiseman and Jaden Ivey contributed 14 points apiece.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was delighted his team had finally returned to winning ways.
“It was great. We talked about getting back to our brand of basketball and that is always going to start and end with defense,” he said, adding that his team had played with “urgency and desperation in the second half to get a much-needed win.”
Ivey returned from a three-game absence after exiting COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Cory Joseph added 13 points.
Pistons forwards Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III, along with guard Alec Burks, were sidelined by injuries.
The Pistons had 20 second-chance points in the first half, lifting them to a 64-58 halftime lead. McGruder knocked down four 3-pointers while scoring 14 points. Jokic led Denver with 18 points.
Pistons guard Jaden Ivey said that was nowhere near good enough against such an opponent.
“We had 14 points in the fourth quarter and playing against a championship caliber team that is not going to do it,” he said.
Neither side had a double-digit advantage before the break but Detroit finished the half with a 13-6 spurt, capped by a Joseph 3-pointer.
A complete performance from Nikola Jokic in the Nuggets W 🃏
78% FG pic.twitter.com/oZZuvcBND5
— NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2023
Denver had an 11-1 run early in the third to take a three-point lead. Detroit regained the advantage midway through the quarter on a McGruder 3-pointer.
Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the quarter and the game was tied at 86 entering the fourth.
The Pistons scored the first five points of the quarter but the Nuggets responded with a 16-0 run.
Murray made a go-ahead shot and Christian Braun (nine points) scored five points during that stretch. Jokic scored the last two baskets before Duren ended Detroit’s drought with a layup. The Pistons went scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes.
Caldwell-Pope soon hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend Denver’s lead to 20 points.