Pistons Rout Nuggets
Detroit 114, Denver 89
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 23 (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets got a look at the Detroit Pistons at their best.
Richard Hamilton scored 19 points to lead seven players in double figures as the Pistons bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 114-89 victory over the Nuggets, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
"It's a good measuring point for us to see where we stand against one of the best teams in the league," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "It's a good learning experience for us. We have a lot of work to do."
Detroit had a season-high 36 assists on 43 baskets.
"They don't care who plays well," Denver coach George Karl said. "They just want to win. They have seven or eight guys who are committed to playing team basketball. That's the best passing team I've seen this year. Their transition game is the most improved part of their game. They didn't run this well last year."
Ben Wallace, who had 11 of his 13 points in the first half as Detroit built a 60-43 lead, said the team aspect is the reason the Pistons have been in the NBA Finals the last two seasons.
"That's been the key to our success," Wallace said. "Everybody roots for each other. We don't care who gets the points. We just care about winning the game."
Detroit's defense held Denver to 40 percent shooting (34-of-85) and Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony to 4-of-15 from the field.
"I didn't have anything to do with it," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who had primary duty on Anthony. "Every time he penetrated, Ben and Rasheed (Wallace) were waiting for him. I think that really bothered him."
Pistons coach Flip Saunders said his team made a conscious effort to improve defensively. Ben Wallace had five of Detroit's 12 blocked shots, while Denver had just two.
"I thought our defense and rebounding were good," Saunders said. "When you're in a situation where you have 12 blocks, that means you're defending the goal. We're probably not as good as we played at times today, and we're not as bad as we played in Dallas. We're somewhere in between."
A layup by Anthony gave Denver its only lead at 18-17 with 4:53 left in the first quarter. Playing for the first time in four days, Detroit answered with an 11-5 run and started the second quarter with a 16-4 surge.
Billups and Rasheed Wallace each scored six points during a 16-3 spurt at the start of the second half that increased the lead to 76-46 with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
"They were fresh and they jumped on us early," said Camby, who had his fifth straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. "A lot of credit should go to Detroit. When you give a team like that a lead on their home court, it's tough."
Denver forward Kenyon Martin played for the first time after being inactive for four games with left knee tendinitis. He played 20 minutes and scored 10 points.
"I can't really gauge anything now because I only played 20 minutes, but the time I was out there it felt good," Martin said. "It was a good sign."
Detroit's Maurice Evans came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points, one short of his career high.
Francisco Elson, who has been starting at small forward in Martin's absence, was accidently hit in the face by Detroit's Carlos Delfino with 1:32 left. He was woozy when he went to the bench. Pistons team physician Dr. Ben Paolucci examined Elson after the game said he appeared to suffer a "mild concussion."