Perhaps Denver's first extended road trip of the season is starting to take a toll on the Nuggets young roster.
In the third stop on a five-game road trip, a 103-86 loss to the Detroit Pistons, which now takes the Nuggets to Boston and Memphis before returning home to face the Golden State Warriors Thursday, Denver came out of the gates sluggish and asleep.
"We were flat everywhere, it wasn't just on offense. Our defense was horrendous," a visibly frustrated Michael Malone said postgame. "Were not going to have the same starting lineup tomorrow night."
Detroit took an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes, setting the tone for how much of the first and second halves would go. From the first quarter on, it was the Andre Drummond show. The 23-year-old big man, who was actually benched in the Pistons' 109-101 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday, won the battle outright against Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic.
Drummond finished with 19 points and 20 rebounds, three blocks and went an impressive 7-11 from the free-throw line, a place where he's shooting just 40.9 percent from on the year. Nurkic, on the other hand, played just 23 minutes, scored ten points and grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with one block.
In total, Detroit shot an impressive 48.2 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from 3-point range, three of which came by the way of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who finished with 13 points.
There were some signs of life from Denver in the second quarter when the Nuggets went on an 18-8 run to close the first half after coach Michael Malone was assessed a technical foul with his team trailing by 19. That tech ignited the Nuggets who only faced a six-point halftime deficit, but Denver was unable to keep that momentum going in the second half.
Much of that second-quarter run came courtesy of Wilson Chandler who scored a team-high 21 points on 9-18 shooting off the bench. Chandler was the lone bright spot for Denver tonight and tied a season-high with 31 minutes.
Detroit only ended up outscoring the Nuggets 26-23 in the third and took a ten point lead into the fourth. but went on a 14-2 run to put the game out of reach halfway through the quarter.
Danilo Gallinari's up-and-down season continued tonight. He finished with 16 points on 5-14 shooting and was 2-7 from three. Jamal Murray scored his first NBA field goal in the first half and finished with nine points on 4-10 shooting. Emmanuel Mudiay scored just six points and did not make a field goal tonight. He finished 0-7 from the field.
Gary Harris saw his first action of the regular season after sitting out Denver's first four games after he suffered a partially torn groin in the Nuggets first preseason game. Harris played 15 minutes and scored three points.
Nikola Jokic looked frustrated tonight with his play and has not been able to find the groove he was in last year through Denver's first five games this season. Jokic finished with six points and six rebounds in 22 minutes
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan | November 5, 2016 | Regular Season Game No. 5
NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME
It's scary to think where the Nuggets would have been without Chandler's 21 points tonight. He was all over the court on offense and defense, and is the only Nuggets player who you can look back on and say "played well" tonight.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Murray with a great bounce pass to Nurkic
Gallinari's dump off leads to a Nurkic dunk
Murray's first NBA field goal - a catch-and-shoot three from the wing
Harris's first points of the season in his first game back.
After Michael Malone's technical foul with six minutes left in the second quarter, the Nuggets went on an 18-8 run to close to within seven at the half after despite trailing 29-12 after the first quarter. Wilson Chandler had 15 points in the first half and was the main factor behind Denver outscoring Detroit 32-22 in the second quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS
Denver has two games remaining on their road trip; at Boston Sunday and at Memphis Tuesday, before returning home for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors Thursday, November 10.