Basketball / NBA

Energetic Pistons end Nuggets' win streak

AP, AFP-JIJI

For the second straight game, the Detroit Pistons had a big third-quarter lead at home.

This time, they kept pouring it on.

Andre Drummond scored 14 of his season-high 27 points in the third and the Pistons snapped Denver’s six-game winning streak, beating the Nuggets 129-103 on Monday night.

Detroit blew a 25-point lead in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, but the Pistons never allowed Denver to make much of a run in the second half. Blake Griffin added 17 points for Detroit, and Reggie Jackson scored 14.

“Played with the same energy we had in that Clippers game, but sustained it for the full game,” Drummond said. “That last game really hurt.”

Trey Lyles had 20 points for the Nuggets, who dropped out of a tie with Golden State for the best record in the Western Conference.

Denver was without forward Paul Millsap, sidelined by right ankle soreness, and the Nuggets (37-16) were also missing Gary Harris (right adductor strain) and Jamal Murray (left ankle sprain). Denver looked sharp early, scoring 36 points in the first quarter, but the Nuggets managed only 19 in the second and trailed 68-55 at halftime.

The Pistons reserves, outscored 80-17 in the loss to the Clippers, came through with 60 points against the Nuggets, Detroit’s bench players expanding the lead to start both the second and fourth quarters.

They helped make the difference on a night when all five Nuggets starters scored in double figures, led by Monte Morris’ 18 points. Nevertheless, Denver saw its six-game win streak snapped and dropped out of a tie with the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference.

“I like the way our guys responded,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Enthusiasm and togetherness.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone had a different perspective after the game.

“Regardless of how many bodies we had, we didn’t defend at all,” Malone said. “Andre Drummond completely dominated us all game. He’s an outstanding player, but 14 points and eight rebounds is a really good game for most players, and he had that in the third quarter.”

Drummond’s work was done after three quarters. None of the Pistons’ starters played in the fourth, and the backups extended the lead.

Detroit’s collapse against the Clippers began toward the end of the third, but that didn’t happen this time. The Pistons were up 97-83 after three. Stanley Johnson then opened the fourth with a three-point play and a 3-pointer, and Luke Kennard added a 3 of his own to push the lead to 23.

Rockets 118, Suns 110

In Phoenix, Houston’s James Harden scored 44 points and joined Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Rick Barry as the only players with 20 games of at least 40 points in the first 50 of a season.

Harden, who also had eight rebounds and six assists, extended his streak of games with at least 30 points to 27, third-longest in NBA history. The only longer streaks are 65 and 31 games, both by Chamberlain.

“I’m just trying to keep going. Nothing can slow me down,” Harden said. “Nothing can stop me. I’m trying to give that same motivation to my teammates and it’s not about scoring, it’s about attacking the game, being aggressive with the game of basketball — defensively, offensively. That’s all I can give to them.”

Chris Paul scored 18 and Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who were without two starters.

Josh Jackson scored 25 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. 23 and Devin Booker 19 for the Suns.

In Other Games

Bucks 113, Nets 94

Kings 127, Spurs 112

Hawks 137, Wizards 129

Pacers 109, Pelicans 107