This is the way things were supposed to look when president Joe Dumars brought in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to spark the Pistons. Jennings toyed with the Denver Nuggets from the perimeter and Smith did much of his dirty work inside and outside during the Pistons’ 126-109 victory Saturday night at The Palace. Jennings finished with 35 points and 12 assists and Smith countered with 30 points, eight assists and 10 rebounds. He also played some stellar defense during a game in which defense was an afterthought. Smith poked several balls loose to a streaking Jennings who fueled the Pistons fast break. Jennings became the first Piston to record 35 points and 12 assists since Hall of Fame guard Isiah Thomas in 1988. “He is taking shots he normally makes,” Smith said. “He works on them in practice. All we have to do is have him play consistent and be the point guard we need him to be.” Don’t look now but the Palace is becoming a pit. The Pistons won their fourth straight at home, which is critical considering their next three are at home, including a Monday night game against San Antonio. The Pistons (21-29) got a huge break when Denver’s starting point guard Ty Lawson left just before the half with a lower back strain. The Nuggets trailed just 63-61 at the time but were not the same with Randy Foye running the show. The Pistons found themselves in a 14-4 hole to start the game but were up 93-77 late in the third quarter. The Nuggets cut the lead to 106-100 with a 23-7 run but the Pistons made enough plays down the stretch. It took the Pistons awhile to adjust to Denver’s up-tempo style. The Pistons never really figured out how to keep Lawson out of the paint but they did not have to worry about that when he was injured. “We had to get ourselves going,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “It looks like we had to regroup and we did regroup. We had to figure out how the game was being played.” After the Nuggets’ final run to cut the lead to six, the Pistons opened up again. Smith hit a bucket going down the lane, Rodney Stuckey (19 points) stuck a jumper and Andre Drummond stole a pass and thrilled the sparse crowd with a windmill layup to pad the Pistons lead to 112-102. Things were so good that Drummond (18 points, 15 rebounds) hit a pair of free throws down the stretch. Guard Randy Foye led Denver with 25 points and J.J. Hickson added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Wilson Chandler had 20 points. The Pistons ran most of the night and their transition game sizzled even though they were not stellar defensively. By the time the evening ended the Pistons scored a season high in points, Jennings had a season high in points and Smith tied his season high in assists. It was the Pistons’ highest point total since 2008 when they scored 135 against the Nuggets. Smith and Jennings were the key.
Pistons fire on all cylinders in victory over Nuggets
Detroit News | Feb 9