Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony combined for 49 points, but it was Denver's bench beating up on the Pistons' that made the difference. All four of the Nuggets' reserves were on the positive side and in double-digits for plus/minus, while four of the five bench players for the Pistons were negative-10+ (Will Bynum's negative-nine being the sole exception). Strangely enough, all Pistons starters were in the plus and all Nuggets starters were in the negative for the entire game
Most of the damage occurred in the first four minutes of the 2nd quarter when the Nuggets' bench outscored the Pistons' 15-4. For the whole quarter, the Pistons shot 7-23 (by my count) with four turnovers, and were outscored 31-20.
A strong effort in the other three quarters (79-76 Pistons - not counting Stuckey's meaningless buzzer beater) was simply not enough to overcome the Western Conference powerhouse that would improve its home record to 25-5 on the season, snap a seven-game losing streak to the Pistons, and earn its fans some tacos (those lucky bastards).
Chauncey Billups had 25 points on just 11 field goal attempts. Arron Afflalo had 14 points on 5-9 shooting (4-6 from beyond the arc) with four rebounds and two blocks.
Oh, for the current Pistons ... Jason Maxiell was in full space baby-eating mode tonight. He finished with 16 points on 7-9 shooting, eight rebounds, and a blocked shot in a little over 24 minutes. That's roughly 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes for the big fella.
For as strong as he's played lately, Tayshaun Prince was equally bad tonight. He was 3-11 shooting in 36 minutes, although he did have six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
6-16 shooting and 14 points for the offensively explosive pair of young players we signed in the off-season. I'm not hopping off their wagon, yet, but I'm currently yawning. This comment from the game thread speaks ugly, ugly truth.
Alluding to another comment, the final four minutes of the 4th quarter were pretty painful. Tied at 93 at the 4:01 mark, the Pistons went on to have virtually two shot clock violations (one for real and one shot hurried because it was winding down), two other turnovers, and seven free throws against. The Nuggets were 3-4 shooting with the only miss being 'Melo's meaningless shot attempt as the shot clock was expiring just before the game clock.
The Scott Hastings Unsung Hero :
Rodney Stuckey had a solid game, until the fourth quarter -- in which he was just 2-5 with a turnover (one of the makes being the aforementioned buzzer beater). Before the final quarter, though, he had everyone on The Curly Fries Watch with 14 points (on 7-15 shooting), seven rebounds, and six assists.
Being in the game for almost 48 minutes against a legitimate championship contender, on their court, felt pretty good. (Although, it felt better before Chauncey mentioned in his post-game interview that the Nuggets didn't get home until around 4:30 AM when the Pistons had a full day to settle in and prepare. And, oh yeah, remember Kenyon Martin didn't play). All in all, though, it was a competitive game and entertaining to watch. I guess that's all we can ask for at this point in the season.
I haven't been very vocal on the notion of tanking for better lottery odds in prior threads, but I'm going to speak my mind now: I absolutely hate the idea of it. It would make the Pistons completely unbearable to watch for the rest of the season and still brings no guarantees. Sure the odds go up for some lotto balls to fall in our favor, but then they have to fall the right way and the Pistons have to actually make the right draft pick (and possible moves to supplement it). In 2003, majority said the right pick at no. 2 was Darko Milicic. Sure, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins sound nice and fairly automatic in terms of panning out (while Cole Aldrich, to me, screams a morph of Big Country Bryant Reeves and Eric Montross), but tanking brings no cozier feelings. Similar to what Matt said, if the Pistons compete for the greater part of the game and still lose then I guess the moral victory is enhanced lotto odds, but I'll never condone tanking or cheer for them to lose. It smacks of rash desperation -- and from Lions fans I almost expect that at this point, but not from Pistons fans who have been spoiled for the greater part of the last decade.
Anyway, the Pistons make the opposite trip the Nuggets just made to take on the Warriors tomorrow night at 10:30 PM EST.