AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Greg Monroe had 21 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons cruised past the slumping Denver Nuggets 98-88 on Friday night.
D.J. Augustin added 22 points and 11 assists, and Andre Drummond had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit, which shot 4 of 24 from 3-point range but still won without much trouble. The Pistons led by as many as 22 in the third quarter but scored only 18 points in the fourth.
Ty Lawson had 20 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who have dropped 12 of 13.
The Pistons led 56-42 at halftime, and although Denver cut into the lead a bit, Detroit answered with a 3-pointer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two more by Augustin, part of a 14-0 run that put the Pistons up 74-52.
Monroe and Drummond came into the game as the only two teammates in the NBA averaging double-doubles. The Pistons have tried to surround those two big men with 3-point threats, but for the most part, Detroit was off target from beyond the arc in this one.
It didn’t matter. The Pistons were up 28-21 after the first quarter and outscored the Nuggets by that same tally in the second.
Monroe reached 20 rebounds for the third time in his career, and this was his first 20-20 game. Augustin — who has helped the Pistons withstand a severe Achilles injury to point guard Brandon Jennings — was again a force, pushing the ball up the court in a game between two teams comfortable in transition.
Detroit lost its season opener at Denver on Oct. 29, scoring only 79 points in the process, but the Pistons are a much different team than they were then. They’re now on the edge of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with a pair of big men who can put up big numbers on any given night and perimeter players who seem to be settling into their roles.
Detroit led 80-62 after three quarters. It was 88-82 with just more than a minute to play, but the Pistons remained in control until the end.
Nuggets: Jameer Nelson (left Achilles strain) and JaVale McGee (flu-like symptoms) sat out.
Pistons: Caldwell-Pope (sore Achilles) was in the starting lineup after playing only 3:29 in a loss at Indiana on Wednesday. He scored nine points against Denver.
Nuggets: Host Oklahoma City on Monday night.
Pistons: Host Minnesota on Sunday night.
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