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Nikola Jokic’s 27 points leads Nuggets past Pistons 134-119

Nikola Jokic scored 27 points in 27 minutes and the Denver Nuggets spoiled the return of Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee with a 134-119 shellacking of the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday evening.

Jokic was glad to see Plumlee, his former backup, and Grant, who helped the Nuggets make a deep run within the bubble final season.

“Everybody, that team from last year, I’m going to remember those guys for the rest of my life,” Jokic mentioned. “We made history, something no one had ever done, coming back from 3-1 two times. … So it’s always going to be nice to see them.”

Jokic additionally dished out 11 assists, his 83rd profession double-digit help sport, two greater than Wilt Chamberlain had in his Hall of Fame profession.

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The Nuggets obtained 25 points from Michael Porter Jr. and 24 from Will Barton. Denver led by as many as 28 earlier than sitting most of their starters early within the second half.

Denver has received 15 of 18, seven in a row and all six with Aaron Gordon within the lineup following the commerce deadline offers that thrust Denver into the championship dialog.

Grant has had a breakout season in Detroit, the place he introduced a 22.4-point scoring common into Denver. He scored 29 points over half-hour to go together with Saddiq Bey’s 25 points.

“I know I have to be aggressive in order to give us a chance,” Grant mentioned.

With their common balanced scoring and deeper than ever bench, the Nuggets took management with 14-0 run early on and closed the primary half on an 11-0 outburst to take a 76-56 lead into the break. They scored the primary 5 points after the break and have been by no means challenged over the ultimate 24 minutes.

The Nuggets have not actually been threatened in any respect with Gordon within the lineup, filling the function Grant occupied final season as a flexible defender who raises the workforce’s athleticism quotient on each ends of the ground.

Gordon was quiet (9 points, 4 rebounds) however he did his common harm defensively as Denver outscored Detroit 40-22 within the paint within the decisive first half and 62-48 total.

“I think it speaks to Aaron wanting to be a part of a high-level team, a team that has championship aspirations,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned when talking of Gordon’s fast adjustment to his new teammates.

“He did not come in here trying to stand out, he came in here trying to fit in.”

That selflessness was evident on a third-quarter sequence when Gordon and Jokic handed the ball again and fourth 4 occasions below the basket earlier than Jokic lastly sank a hook shot.

MIFFED MALONE

“We’re going to have to defend a hell of a lot better tomorrow night,” Malone mentioned after watching the scrappy Pistons shoot 54.3% and make 15 of 35 from lengthy vary. “We had 36 assists, so offensively a great night,” Malone mentioned. “Defensively, we just traded baskets all night long.”

Pistons coach Dwayne Casey needs he had Malone’s issues: The Nuggets made 56 of 94 pictures in comparison with Detroit’s 44-for-81 efficiency.

“They shot 60 percent, basically, so we didn’t present any opposition defensively,” Casey lamented.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Plumlee scored 4 points. … The sport was initially scheduled for Feb. 1, however was postponed attributable to Covid-19 contact tracing with the Pistons.

Nuggets: Denver shot a blistering 67.3% within the first half. … Jamal Murray (ankle) sat out for Denver. … The largest cheer of the evening from the 4,000 socially distanced followers went up for Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning when he was proven on the large videoboard throughout a second-quarter timeout.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Thursday evening for third sport of their five-game highway swing.

Nuggets: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday evening within the first of a two-game set at Ball Arena that concludes Friday evening.

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