Recap: Denver Nuggets survive late surge by Detroit Pistons

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The first quarter between the Denver Nuggets and the Detroit Pistons featured a lot of scoring between the two sides, especially due to the hot 3-point shooting of Detroit who were a crisp 6-of-8 in the quarter. The Nuggets starters left the game with a lead late in the first quarter, and the bench gave up a late triple that allowed Detroit to cut the lead to just two with Denver leading 34-32 at the end of the period.

The second unit got started fast in the second quarter with five points in the first two minutes, but the Pistons were right there with them with five points of their own. Over the next two minutes, Denver continued to stay hot and poured in a quick seven points to force the Pistons to call a timeout to slow down the momentum of the game. Denver’s lead with the second unit ballooned to 10 before the Pistons had begun to claw their way back and were within seven with 5:15 to go in the quarter. The two sides were going back and forth over the next few minutes. Denver’s lead was largely static between eight and 12 points, but Detroit was trying to cut into it thanks to 17 points off of turnovers in less than two full quarters. Denver closed the quarter strong and was leading 69-59 at the half behind a strong showing from Nikola Jokic who had 19 points on only nine shots.

The Nuggets picked up right where they left off to start the second half with seven quick points forcing a timeout from Detroit. As the quarter wore on, the two sides traded buckets back and forth outside of a brief Detroit run. Denver’s lead was 97-89 at the end of the third quarter with Jokic having another great game with 25 points, 19 rebounds and just two assists away from another triple-double.

In the fourth, the Nuggets allowed the Pistons to begin closing the gap. Denver’s second unit was struggling to keep pace with some of the Pistons starters, and they were allowing Detroit to crawl back into the game. A huge night out of Cade Cunningham, who went 6-of-9 from 3-point range and put up a total of 34 points kept the Pistons competitive through the final quarter that they won 20-13. However, they weren’t able to complete the comeback with some late Nuggets’ free throws icing the game to help Denver win back-to-back games.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic – 28

Assists: Jokic – 9

Rebounds: Jokic – 21

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 28 points, 21 rebounds, 9 assists, 9-of-20 field goal, 3-of-8 3-point, 7-of-7 free throw

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