The Pistons (41-15), who are second in the East, two games behind NBA-leading Boston, were listless in losing two games following the All-Star break last week. They, however, rebounded with a pair of convincing wins, including a 116-86 victory at Phoenix on Sunday after routing Milwaukee 127-100 two nights earlier.
Detroit is 12-2 since losing a season-high three straight from Jan. 18-21.
“This was a big game for us,” said Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points and 11 assists against the Suns. “You know how we are, man, when we play against other elite teams, we lock in. We lock in big-time. I thought everybody played great today - everybody.”
Billups has been solid of late after having one of his worst shooting performances of the season coming out of the break. He made only 3 of 13 shots for nine points and five assists in a 103-85 loss to Orlando on Tuesday, but is averaging 23.0 points and 9.7 assists in three games since, increasing his season averages to 17.5 and a team-high 7.1, respectively.
Billups will try to improve on that against Denver (33-22), a team he had 34 points and 10 assists against in the last meeting - a 113-109 home win on March 26 to complete a sweep of the two-game season series.
That was Detroit’s 11th victory in its last 13 matchups with the Nuggets, with both losses coming at the Pepsi Center. The Pistons, though, won their most recent visit to Denver, 95-82 on March 9, as they limited the high-scoring duo of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony to 36 total points.
Anthony (26.6) and Iverson (26.2) rank third and fourth, respectively, in the NBA in scoring.
They are looking to help Denver avoid a season-high third consecutive loss for a third time this season.
Iverson scored 26 points and Anthony had 25, but the Nuggets squandered a 23-point, second-quarter lead Saturday en route to a 115-109 defeat at Milwaukee. The setback came one night after a 135-121 loss at Chicago, and dropped Denver into a tie with Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
“We might have run out of gas a little bit,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We looked like a tired team at the end of the game. We’re playing good basketball for stretches, but defensively we’re giving up way too many points.”
That has been a problem all season for Denver, which is fourth in the NBA in scoring (107.3), but is also allowing 104.9, better than only Indiana (105.0) and Golden State (108.1).
The Nuggets hope J.R. Smith can continue providing scoring off the bench. He scored 20 points against the Bucks after putting up a career-high 43 on Friday.
Smith had 21 points against Detroit on March 26.