Melo off as Denver scores season-low in points

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- As ugly as it was, the Detroit
Pistons won a game they desperately needed.

Ben Wallace had 14 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Antonio
McDyess scored 13 to help Detroit end a season-high four-game
losing streak with an 87-70 victory over the Denver Nuggets on
Wednesday night.

"This was important," said Chauncey Billups, who tied a season
high with 10 assists. "We needed to end this slide and get the bad
taste out of our mouths."

The Nuggets dropped their third straight and are 4-10 since
hiring interim coach Michael Cooper, who might soon be replaced by
George Karl.

"I'm not worried about my status," Cooper said. "I knew this
was an interim job when I got it. I just want to make sure our team
stays focused. It is distracting for the guys, but they need to let
management worry about the coach and focus on playing."

Marcus Camby said the topic is a bigger deal with the media than
the Nuggets.

"I don't think it's affecting the team," Camby said. "I like
the coach we have now."

The Pistons trailed only once, in the opening minutes, and
McDyess helped them put Denver away with eight straight points from
late in the third quarter to early in the fourth.

Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony scored a season-low five points on
2-of-13 shooting.

"Detroit has a great defensive scheme," he said. "They make
every basket hard."

Anthony has played twice at Detroit, which drafted Darko Milicic
over him, and he would like to forget both games. Last year,
Anthony refused to go back in the game in the fourth quarter.

"Everybody makes mistakes and that was one I made," he said.
"It's all about learning from your mistakes, and I learned from
that one."

Anthony scored 34 points when Denver beat the Pistons on Nov. 11
at home, and had 32 points in a loss Tuesday at Chicago.

Denver reserve Earl Boykins scored 14 points, and Andre Miller
and Camby each scored 10. Camby, who also had 14 rebounds, returned
to the lineup after missing a game with a sprained left ankle.

Carlos Arroyo scored 12 off the bench for the Pistons, Rasheed
Wallace had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Tayshaun Prince scored
12. Richard Hamilton, who missed the previous game with a bruised
right thigh, had 10 points.

It looked like a matchup of struggling teams for much of the

Denver was only 1-of-8 to start the game and had just six points
before scoring six more in the final 1:09 of the first. The Pistons
led 25-12 after the quarter and for the most part, had a
comfortable cushion the rest of the game.

"We almost shut them out in the first quarter," Pistons coach
Larry Brown said.

Wide-open shots clanged off rims, passes went through hands and
effort was often lacking.

"A little bit more energy y'all," Rasheed Wallace said walking
to the bench during a timeout in the third quarter.

Camby once finished a 3-on-0 break by fumbling a pass and
missing a layup all alone under the basket.

"It was an ugly ballgame," Camby said.

Game notes
The Pistons play at Indiana on Thursday in the teams'
second meeting since the melee two months ago. "It wasn't fun the
last time we went there and I don't think it will be fun this
time," Brown said. .... Utah released Elden Campbell on Wednesday,
less than a week after acquiring him and a future No. 1 pick from
Detroit for Arroyo. If Campbell clears waivers on Friday, the
Pistons might bring him back. ... The Nuggets are 5-16 on the road
and have lost their last nine games at Detroit. ... Both teams wore
throwback jerseys, and Denver's were from the 1975-76 season when
Brown coached the Nuggets. ... Ben Wallace led Detroit in scoring
for the second time this season.