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Backcourt of Brooks, Foye lead Nuggets past Pistons

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted March 20, 2014 00:53

One month ago, Aaron Brooks couldn’t get on the court with the Houston Rockets.

On Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets couldn’t afford to keep him off of it.

Filling in for ailing teammate Ty Lawson, Brooks was indispensable for the Nuggets, scoring 27 points and adding a career-high 17 assists to help Denver rally for a 118-109 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Pepsi Center.

Brooks, acquired by Denver on Feb. 20, played nearly 47 minutes and didn’t come out of the game in the second half. In his final six games with Houston, he played a combined 16 minutes.

“He really got going in the second half,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “In the first half, he was a little tentative. I thought in the second half he played a lot more aggressive. We needed every bit of what he gave us.”

Denver also got a big second half from shooting guard Randy Foye, who scored 17 of his 22 points after the break. Foye logged 44 minutes.

“I told Aaron and Randy that you guys have to get your rest during the timeouts because I’m not taking either one of you out of the game,” Shaw said.

Coming off an impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nuggets looked lethargic early on as they played without Lawson and starting forward Wilson Chandler. Lawson was a late scratch due to a sinus infection, and Chandler sat out after having an injection as part of his regular treatment for his left hip.

Playing short-handed, the Nuggets trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half. They got a boost when Pistons forward Josh Smith was ejected midway through the third quarter after drawing two technical fouls for exchanging words with Denver forward Kenneth Faried – and then the officials.

“It got us going,” Foye said. “There was a lot of trash talk going back and fourth between him and Kenneth. It got everybody fired up. He was talking to the bench and Kenneth was going back at him. We were like, ‘It’s on now.’ ”

The Nuggets closed the third quarter with a 10-2 run and then scored nine of the first 12 points to start the fourth. The Pistons never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Brooks had eight points and seven assists without committing a turnover in the game’s final 12 minutes.

“I was a little bit more aggressive,” he said. “It's weird because you come down and (miss) some shots and you kind of shake your head and you have Brian telling you to shoot it again. I haven’t had that in a while. He’s giving us confidence. He believes in us.”

The Nuggets have given Shaw reason to believe. They have won four of their past five games, with two of the wins coming against the Clippers and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Denver will travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Friday night. The game is the first of six straight against teams in playoff position.


STAR OF THE GAME

Aaron Brooks

Points 27 10-19 FG, 6-7 FT
Rebounds 6, 3 OFF 3 DEF
Assists 17
Steals 0
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Aaron Brooks 27
Rebounds J.J. Hickson 11
Assists Aaron Brooks 17
Steals Greg Monroe 4
Blocks Two with 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw on guards Aaron Brooks and Randy Foye playing a combined 91 minutes

"I told Aaron and Randy that you guys have to get your rest during the timeouts because I’m not taking either one of you out of the game."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets take advantage of Smith's ejection

The Pistons led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter but were only up by five when starting forward Josh Smith was ejected for arguing with the officials. Denver took advantage of his absence and surged into the lead heading into the fourth.

VIDEO: MOZGOV SLAM

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On tonight’s game:
“Tonight’s game was a tale of two halves. The first half looked eerily similar to what we have done after we’ve had a big win and came out and played flat. We talked about that at halftime and said luckily there are two halves and we have another opportunity to turn it around and I thought we did that in the second half.

On Aaron Brooks:
“Well he really got going in the second half. In the first half he was a little tentative. Coming off pick and roll situations he was getting in the paint and leaving his feet. I told him at halftime, they’re not taking away your shot, you’re coming off looking to pass, the play is for you. [When] you come off and they take away your scoring opportunity away, then let your instincts kick in and tell you what to do after that. I thought in the second half he played a lot more aggressive. He took what the defense gave him. He came off with more force in the pick and roll situations and just really got it going. We needed every bit of what he gave us tonight. I told Aaron and Randy [Foye] that you guys have to get your rest during the timeout because I’m not taking either one of you out of the game.”

On Kenneth Faried vs. Josh Smith:
“Josh [Smith] started talking to Kenneth [Faried] every time we threw the ball in to the post so he kind of started the whole thing. I was surprised Kenneth got a technical along with him when he got it, but I have to give that assist to our assistant coach Melvin Hunt because he kept it going.”

Nuggets point guard Aaron Brooks

On how he pushed through fatigue to play 46 minutes tonight:
“The team—my teammates, (Randy) Foye played a great game; I thought everybody contributed and it was a team victory. That’s how we did it.”

On becoming more comfortable with Denver’s offense and teammates:
“I kind of just took what the defense gave me. We hit some big shots, I was a little bit more aggressive—it’s weird, I’m laughing because you come down and shoot some shots and you kind of shake your head and you have Brian (Shaw) telling you to shoot it again, and I haven’t had that in a while. He’s giving us confidence, he believes in us and, I think, as a team after having a letdown for a few games we’re starting to regroup and come back.”

On the last time he felt this good on a basketball court:
“I actually felt better a few games ago, but I didn’t make the shots. It seems like it just happened today. I wasn’t going out there trying to do something special today, it was just what the defense gave and guys hit shots.”

On if he was surprised to record a career-high 17 assists tonight:
“You better watch my highlights because passing wasn’t my thing (laughs). I think before tonight it was probably 11 or 12. Like I said, I just learned the offense and am making better decisions—being older and seeing stuff a little bit different helped me expand my game a little bit more.”

Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur

On his shooting:
“I’m feeling better shooting the ball; I’ve been working on my shooting the second half of the season. I’m getting open looks because the defense is sagging off because I normally don’t shoot those types of shots; I’m just trying to knock them down and be constant as possible. Coach wants me to expand my game and that’s what I’m doing”

On tonight’s game:
“I thought Aaron Brooks did a good job picking the defense apart, he did what he wanted to like get to the rim and got guys open for easy shots. I also thought J.J.Hickson did a good job coming off the bench and made two big shot at the end of the game, guys are just playing. It’s a team effort out there on the court.”

Pistons coach John Loyer

On the Nuggets backcourt getting away from them:
“They ran pretty good pick and rolls. Our pursuit on the pick and roll was not as good as it needed to be. When you sit there and watch guys making it and shooting it and feeling pretty good. I think they had five 3s in the third, you just can’t be closing out short. You have to rush them and get all the way up in them and we just kind of watched a few guys. If you want to be a good defensive team you have to have multiple efforts. We had spurts where we had multiple efforts. But, to win on the road you have to have multiple efforts for 48 minutes; especially when it is a six-point game down the stretch. In the key spots, we didn’t have multiple efforts.”

On if the team was affected by not having Andre Drummond in the game tonight:
“You are always affected when you lose one of your better players. He averages 13 points and 13 rebounds. So, you definitely miss his rebounding, his presence around the rim and his ability to guard inside. Anytime you don’t have one of your starting players you definitely miss them.”

On the bench:
“I thought our whole bench was pretty good. Kentavious [Caldwell-Pope] in the first half did well. He had 10 rebounds and was active. He guarded and tracked down some loose balls. I thought Charlie [Villanueva] came in and made some big buckets and did some good things. You can’t really fault any of their efforts, we just didn’t have the right effort in a couple of the key spots: a key rebound, making a key free throw, maybe getting an extra possession by taking care of the ball. We had five rebounds at the end of the first half. I think we had six in the third quarter alone and then two in the fourth. If you cut those turnovers by two or three you would have cut more possessions.”

Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey:

On Aaron Brooks’ performance:
“He was tough tonight, especially on the pick-and-roll. If you get picked and he’s coming downhill it’s a tough battle. When given the opportunity he has played great in this league. Everybody knows he’s a good player.”

On playing without Andre Drummond:
“We really can’t make any adjustments losing Andre [Drummond]. Andre is our centerpiece in what’s going on out there. Guys just have to step up. It’s an opportunity for guys to step up and that’s what’s needed.”

On Josh Smith ejection:
“We just lost a player so other guys have to step up. That’s part of being professional. Things happen throughout the course of a game. It’s our job as teammates to have his back.”

Pistons guard Brandon Jennings:

On inconsistent play:
“It’s definitely disappointing. I feel like we’ve juist been inconsistent all year. We’ve just never really had a chance to be more consistent. Everything has just been inconsistent all year.”

On Josh Smith ejection:
“That early into the second half, yea I think he should’ve stayed in the game just because with Andre [Drummond] being out we don’t need another guy like himself to be out. I just think it was kind of like bad timing. We went on a run and had the momentum. They got two free-throws off that and the whole momentum just changed.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Aaron Brooks scored a season-high 27 points to go with six boards and a career-high 17 assists in 47 minutes tonight. It was his fourth career 20-point/10-assist game (first since 1/15/11 at ATL) and his most points in a game since 4/7/10 vs. UTA.

• Brooks is the first NBA player this season to post 27+ points, 17+ assists and 6+ rebounds in the same game and is just the fifth player to do so since Nov. 1997 (Monta Ellis, Baron Davis and Chris Paul on two occasions are the others). He is the first Nugget to reach these numbers in a single game since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf on 11/15/95 at PHX (30 points, 20 assists, eight rebounds.

• Randy Foye registered 22 points (5-12 3FG), five rebounds, five assists and three steals. It is just the second time in his career he has had 22+ points, 5+ boards, 5+ assists and 3+ steals in a game, the other one coming on 4/18/07 vs. MEM. It was his 28th career game with 5+ threes, with eight of those coming this season.

• Foye is just the fourth player this season to reach 22+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 3+ steals while also hitting 5+ threes in the same game (Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and James Harden on two occasions are the others).

• Will Bynum came off the bench for Detroit to post 12 points and 10 assists. It was his sixth career double-double and first time doing so on the road.

TEAM

• The Nuggets have now won five straight home games over Detroit and seven of the last eight overall against the Pistons. Denver has also extended their home-winning streak to four.

• Denver has now won 56 of their last 57 home games when scoring 110+ points.

• The Nuggets shot .512 (44-86 FG) from the field tonight, moving to 14-1 this season when shooting 50%-or-better.

• Denver trailed by as many as 11 in tonight’s win. It was their 11th win of the year after trailing by 10-or-more points.

• The Nuggets handed out 27 assists tonight, their sixth time in the last nine games registering 27+. Denver is 12-6 on the year when they have 27-or-more helpers.

• 17 of the Nuggets’ assists came from starting point guard Aaron Brooks, tying the Nuggets season-high for assists in a game (Lawson has had 17 on two occasions this season). Prior to this season, the last time a Nugget had 17+ assists was Steve Blake in 2007.

• The Nuggets had all five starters score in double-figures (9-3 when this happens) and are now 19-8 on the year when six-or-more players score 10+ points. Their 27 games with six-or-more players in double-figures is the most such games in the NBA this year.

• Denver outrebounded the Pistons 46-43, their sixth straight game they have outrebounded their opponents.

• The Nuggets shot 11-of-27 (.407) from the three-point line tonight and are now 14-6 on the year when they hit 10+ threes.

• Denver committed 12 turnovers that resulted in 23 Detroit points through the first three quarters, but committed zero in the fourth quarter.

• The Nuggets registered 26 fast break points and are 4-2 on the year when scoring 25+.