Playing in Denver has historically been a tall order for the Detroit Pistons, who haven’t won at Ball Arena since 2016. With the Nuggets bringing back their regular starters and Detroit missing three of their five starters, it could easily have turned into a bloodbath. Luckily for Detroit, some unexpected performances led to a much-needed 110-108 win.
Detroit fought hard all night. They were the faster and more energetic team for most of the game, but when the game got tight on the track, so did the Pistons. Their attack stuttered midway through the fourth quarter, and their double-digit lead eventually shrank to just a point with a minute and a half to go.
With Detroit losing their last seven games, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they just retired – but the Pistons had other plans. Alec Burks hit a couple of clutch free throws and an even more clutch basket, dampening Detroit’s lead to 5 points. That, plus Bojan Bogdanovic (who led all Detroit scorers with 22 points), who threw a pair off the strip with less than a minute to go, proved just enough as the Pistons escaped and ended their losing streak.
The evening’s story was all about Detroit’s bank. They were productive as soon as they checked the game in, continued to produce throughout the second half and amassed 53 points. The aforementioned Burks scored 21 points on 7-13 shooting from the field and seemed to deliver the goods every time the Pistons needed a bucket. He was flanked by Kevin Knox, who easily had his best game as a Piston, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. Knox was active, he rebounded, he defended, he scored – and Detroit needed every single one of his 17 points and 8 rebounds.
The unsung hero of the game for Detroit was Killian Hayes, and although he had some early turnovers late in the game that ultimately caused him to be pulled during the game’s waning moments, he spurred the Pistons’ offense throughout the third quarter (6 assists). this frame) and consistently played solid defense against Jamal Murray, who only managed to score 10 points on 3-12 shooting from the floor. Hayes led all Pistons with 9 assists and scored 9 points.
As for the Nuggets, back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic gave Detroit everything they could handle. Marvin Bagley III and Jalen Duren were tasked with defending the Nuggets All-NBA center but just weren’t up to the task. Denver’s offense was led through Jokic early and often, and it felt like he was responsible for almost every nugget basket. He punished Detroit in the paint and regularly found his teammates for easy dunks and open threes, despite only being able to knock down Denver 5-19 from deep. Jokic lit up the Pistons with 31 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds — but it just wasn’t enough.
Detroit will be looking to continue their winning streak against the Utah Jazz tomorrow night.