"I was trying to provide a lift for us and give us some energy,
but it wouldn't come," said Denver native Chauncey Billups, who
led the Pistons with 27 points. "There were a couple of gimmes
that we missed. I made the tough ones and missed the easy ones."
Richard Hamilton added 19 points for Detroit, which had its
six-game winning streak snapped. The NBA's best road team lost for
only the eighth time in 29 games away from home.
There were stretches when Billups and his teammates couldn't
finish uncontested layups let alone wide open 3-pointers.
"We have been playing a lot of games home-road-home-road, so I
think we were a little tired tonight," Detroit coach Flip Saunders
said. "We'll have to give some guys a rest down the stretch."
Martin had his own take on the what transpired. He pointed to
Denver's 110-89 loss to Milwaukee last Monday as the jumping off
"We were embarrassed and came out playing lackadaisical," said
Martin, who made a couple of 3-pointers. "We all knew we could do
that against that team."
And then there was the 59-35 rebounding disparity from a team
that had been outrebounded in 13 of its previous 14 games. Marcus
Camby grabbed 20 rebounds alone to go along with 12 points for the
"Detroit wins by being physically defensive," Denver coach
George Karl said. "We matched that physical play and went hard to
The game turned when the Nuggets dug in defensively to start the
second half. Detroit managed only 6-for-24 shooting and went nearly
five minutes before getting a field goal, a 3-pointer from Billups
that brought them within 63-60.
Anthony and Camby took over the rest of the quarter, scoring
five points and four points respectively to give the Nuggets an
82-72 lead going into the fourth quarter, only the 10th time the
Pistons trailed heading into the final period.
Martin had two jumpers early in the fourth to put Denver up
88-77, but the Pistons got it back to 88-82 on a 3-pointer from
Lindsey Hunter and Rasheed Wallace's jumper with 5:36 left.
Martin came back with a 3-pointer and Anthony had two dunks to
make sure the Pistons never got any closer the rest of the way.
"You saw us playing the way we have to play down the stretch,"
Anthony said. "The way we must play the rest of the way."
Billups had 19 points by halftime, but it took a 3-pointer in
the last minute to put the Pistons ahead 56-55 at the break.
Anthony had 14 and helped Denver stay close after falling behind
by as many as nine points in the second quarter.
"We had control," Saunders said. "We lost that control and
couldn't gain it back in the second half."
: During the pregame introductions, Billups received a
three-minute standing ovation. Billups still maintains an offseason
home in Denver. ... Detroit signed free agent G Tony Delk. ...
Double technicals were issued to Hamilton and Ruben Patterson after
the two exchanged words with 6:37 left in the first quarter. ...
Denver waived G Charles Smith.