Jamal Murray was a late scratch for the Nuggets, but it hardly mattered. The Nuggets depth is one of their calling cards, not to mention their star power with MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.
Jerami Grant paced Detroit with 16 points in the first quarter against his former squad as the good guys led the quarter until late. Saddiq Bey came out drilling in-rhythm shots as well, and it seemed like the Pistons still had their groove from the day earlier in Oklahoma City.
However, when the two teams went to their respective benches, the entire game flipped. The Nuggets bench ended the opening quarter — led tonight by Paul Millsap and first-year NBA player Facundo Campazzo (famous for his elite passing ability) — changed the pace and intensity of the game instantly. Then, Nuggets stars Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. smelled blood in the water and got their games going more so in the second quarter as the Nuggets expanded their lead and went to the break up 20 on the Pistons, 76-56.
Outside of Grant’s 20 and Bey‘s 19 first-half points, Detroit got very little from anyone else aside from good ball movement and penetration from Saben Lee (five assists). Dwane Casey played 11 different players in the opening half. Dennis Smith Jr. was the first point guard off the bench tonight, but after six wild and unproductive minutes, he was replaced by Cory Joseph, who has been getting the bulk of the backup point guard minutes recently.
Jokic being Jokic in a 10 second clip:
Jokic does wacky stuff like this literally every other game:
Jerami Grant making P.J. Dozier — normally a stout defender — look silly:
The Nuggets continued their offensive dominance with precision and monotony in the third, slicing up Detroit’s defense often times before there was even half the shot clock gone.
Some education for Isaiah Stewart as Jokic leaves him in the dust:
Pretty quickly into the final quarter, “We want Bol Bol” chants began cascading down from the Nuggets faithful. But as the lead stayed right around 20 with Detroit still fighting, there was no such emptying of the bench so early. Tyler Cook, Stewart and Frank Jackson kept the energy up and did their part. Cory Joseph pushed the ball and played with great effort, as he is prone to do.
Grant finished with 29 points and Bey finished with 25 points.
Jokic scored 27 points, dished 11 assists and gathered eight boards, and I don’t think he even broke much of a sweat.
The Pistons continue their road trip Thursday in Sacramento.