Denver knocked off Detroit, owner of the league’s best record, 98-87 on Wednesday to snap the Pistons’ six-game winning streak. Kenyon Martin had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Carmelo Anthony added 25 points for the Nuggets, who rebounded from a demoralizing 110-89 loss to Milwaukee two days earlier.
“This game showed that we can play with anybody in this league,” said Martin, who hit two of his three 3-point attempts to snap a 1-for-12 slump from behind the arc. “This is one we needed to win. We showed attitude and intensity, everything we didn’t do last game.”
Martin has struggled with knee tendinitis this season and has averaged 14.2 points in 44 games, his worst average since his rookie season of 2000-01 when he averaged 12.0 points for New Jersey. On Wednesday, however, he recorded his second-highest scoring output of the season and added 12 rebounds.
The Nuggets, who had been outrebounded in 13 of their previous 14 games, beat the physical Pistons 59-35 on the boards and outscored them 60-24 in the paint. Marcus Camby grabbed 20 rebounds to go along with his 12 points.
“Detroit wins by being physically defensive,” coach George Karl said. “We matched that physical play and went hard to the glass.”
The Nuggets held the Pistons to 31 points after halftime as they pushed their lead in the weak Northwest Division to 3 1/2 games over Utah.
“From here on out, we’ve got to play like this,” Anthony said. “This is a big spark for us. We’ve got to bring this same energy against teams that we should beat.”
The Rockets lost 106-101 to Philadelphia on Wednesday, their second straight defeat since winning 10 of 12. Tracy McGrady scored 25 points, but Houston blew an 11-point third-quarter lead.
The 76ers shot 51.9 percent from the field, the highest of any opponent against the Rockets this season.
“That was a very disappointing fourth quarter,” coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “The level of defense, the intensity, was not correct and the shot selection was outside-in versus inside-out.
“That’s very disappointing, and we deserve what we got.”
The Rockets, who have blown double-digit leads in their last two games, had won their last 13 home games in which they reached the 100-point mark.