It would be easy for the Pistons to realize that they’re short on most nights, but that hasn’t been an excuse on the team’s longest road trip of the season.
Detroit hasn’t had many wins on the six-game West Coast swing, but they consistently find ways to stay competitive without three of their best players.
The last stop was Denver, the hottest 3-point shooting team in the NBA, led by defensive MVP Nikola Jokic.
The result? The first win for the Pistons since November 7 when Detroit fought tooth and nail for a 110-108 win over the Nuggets at Mile High City.
More:BOX SCORE: Pistons 110, Nuggets 108
After a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter with six minutes and 34 seconds in the game, the Nuggets fought back to bring the game to within one minute with just over two minutes remaining. The Pistons were leading 104–103 when Alec Burks fouled and made a pair of free throws to cut the Pistons’ lead to three. He then connected on a dying midrange shot with 50.6 seconds left to give Detroit a healthy five-point lead.
The Nuggets were unable to overcome the deficit despite consecutive late attempts by Nikola Jokic, leading to the Pistons’ first road win of the season. It snapped a seven-game losing skid by Detroit.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists, including the late free throws that helped Detroit seal the win. He entered an offensive zone in the first quarter that kept the game close early on. The eight-year veteran turned to unorthodox layups. He knocked over a three-pointer. He made a series of difficult shots that seemed easy for the prolific scoring striker. Bogdanovic made six of his first nine shots to finish the quarter with 13 points.
The Detroit bench had a major influence on the game. It netted 53 points, largely for Burks, who has been instantly offended since returning to the lineup earlier this month. He finished with 21 points off the bench.
Kevin Knox II, who continued his season-high of 11 points against Sacramento on Sunday with 17 points and seven rebounds against the Nuggets. Knox ran across the floor in transition for easy dunks, connecting from the perimeter and scoring pressure points for the Pistons.
Jokic missed three games due to health and safety protocols but returned on Tuesday. He didn’t seem rusty at all and finished with a dominant all-around game of 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Michael Porter Jr. added 18 points and eight rebounds. Aaron Gordon had 17 points and seven rebounds.
The Nuggets entered the game as the best leading 3-point shooting team in the NBA, but the Pistons defended well. Denver finished the game with only five triples on 19 attempts.
There was a brief moment of silence before the playing of the national anthem in honor of the five victims who died, along with the 18 injured, as a result of Saturday’s mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was Nuggets’ first home game since the tragedy.
Bogdanovic caught his fifth technical foul of the season in the second quarter, tying Luka Doncic for third most technical fouls in the NBA. Only Kevin Durant (7) and Draymond Green (6) have made more technical fouls this season.
Despite a sloppy third quarter for Detroit, which was plagued by six turnovers, the Pistons produced an 8–0 run late in the period, allowing them to take a two-point lead going into the final quarter.
The Pistons will try to pick up their momentum in Utah on Wednesday for the fifth game of their six-game road trip. The game against the Jazz will be Bogdanovic’s first Utah game since being acquired by the Pistons.