Turns out it was called a lot Wednesday night.
Brooks scored a season-high 27 points and dished out a career-high
17 assists, and the Denver Nuggets overcame the absence of two
starters to beat the struggling Detroit Pistons 118-109.
Guard Randy Foye scored 22 for the Nuggets, who won four of their
Brooks was thrust into the starting lineup when starting point guard
Ty Lawson was scratched because of a sinus infection. After a
serviceable first half, he had 17 points and 11 assists in the
second while logging nearly 47 minutes of court time.
It was the most minutes he has played this season, and it came as a
surprise — even to him.
"Ty walked off the court (after warmups) and sat down said, 'I'm not
going.' I thought he was joking," Brooks said. "I was like, 'Quit
playing around. Get back out there.' Everybody contributed and it
was a team victory."
The Pistons, in a months-long spiral, came into Denver after four
days off, but it did not help change their fortunes. Wednesday's
loss made it 13 in 16 games and extended their road losing streak to
Center Greg Monroe had 22 points and guard Rodney Stuckey added 18
for Detroit, which has not won away from home since beating
Washington on Jan. 18.
Wednesday, they were victimized by a hot Denver backcourt.
"Aaron Brooks was able to get in the lane and Randy Foye just caught
fire from 3," Monroe said. "Anytime you have a backcourt that one's
getting to the rim and the other is knocking down 3s is going to be
tough on any night."
The game featured two ailing teams. Detroit center Andre Drummond
was out with a neck injury while the Nuggets were missing two of
their best players. In addition to Lawson, forward Wilson Chandler
(hip) was out, leaving Denver looking like a roster that lost eight
of nine last month.
The Nuggets played like it early. It took nearly three minutes for
them to score their first points of the game, and after taking a
lead in the final seconds of the first quarter, they trailed for the
next 24 minutes.
Detroit, behind 14 first-half points by Stuckey, who made his first
start of the season, led by as many as 11. It carried over into the
third quarter before Denver rallied.
"It took us a while to get up to speed," Brooks said.
Detroit's lead was five when forward Josh Smith, the team's leading
scorer, picked up a technical when he mixed it up with Nuggets
forward Kenneth Faried. Faried was also slapped with a technical.
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"They were talking. It was just some friendly trash talk," Monroe
said. "It wasn't anything malicious."
Smith kept talking before the ball was inbounded and picked up a
second technical and was ejected with 6:53 left in the period.
"He was talking but the ref told him to stop before, he kept
talking, got another tech. That was a momentum change when that
happened," Monroe said. "Losing him for the rest of the game
obviously puts us at a disadvantage in any game, at any point we
Foye scored eight of his 12 third-quarter points over the rest of
the period, including a steal and layup that gave Denver an 85-84
lead heading into the fourth.
"When you sit there and watch guys marking it and shooting it and
feeling pretty good, you've got to rush them, you've got to get up
in them," Pistons coach John Loyer said. "We kind of watched a few
Brooks hit two shots and fed forward J.J. Hickson for a dunk as the
Nuggets took a 104-91 lead midway through the period.
"I'm just starting to learn the offense and finding the guys in the
right places," Brooks said. "I'm happy to get my first win as a
Forward Charlie Villanueva scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth
to get the Pistons to within four in the final minute but Denver
NOTES: Pistons C Andre Drummond was out with neck injury suffered in
Detroit's last game, Saturday against Indiana. ... Nuggets F Wilson
Chandler had an injection in his sore left hip and did not dress. He
is questionable for Friday's game at Dallas. ... Pistons G Chauncey
Billups, a Denver native and former Nuggets player, received a warm
ovation when he was shown on Detroit's bench in a suit. Billups has
played just 19 games this year and is out after having surgery on
his left knee.
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