AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—As ugly as it was, the Detroit Pistons won a game they desperately needed.
Ben Wallace had 14 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Antonio McDyess scored 13 to help Detroit end a season-high four-game losing streak with an 87-70 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
“This was important,” said Chauncey Billups, who tied a season high with 10 assists. “We needed to end this slide and get the bad taste out of our mouths.”
The Nuggets dropped their third straight and are 4-10 since hiring interim coach Michael Cooper, who might soon be replaced by George Karl.
“I’m not worried about my status,” Cooper said. “I knew this was an interim job when I got it. I just want to make sure our team stays focused. It is distracting for the guys, but they need to let management worry about the coach and focus on playing.”
Marcus Camby said the topic is a bigger deal with the media than the Nuggets.
“I don’t think it’s affecting the team,” Camby said. “I like the coach we have now.”
The Pistons trailed only once, in the opening minutes, and McDyess helped them put Denver away with eight straight points from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth.
Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony scored a season-low five points on 2-of-13 shooting.
“Detroit has a great defensive scheme,” he said. “They make every basket hard.”
Anthony has played twice at Detroit, which drafted Darko Milicic over him, and he would like to forget both games. Last year, Anthony refused to go back in the game in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody makes mistakes and that was one I made,” he said. “It’s all about learning from your mistakes, and I learned from that one.”
Anthony scored 34 points when Denver beat the Pistons on Nov. 11 at home, and had 32 points in a loss Tuesday at Chicago.
Carlos Arroyo scored 12 off the bench for the Pistons, Rasheed Wallace had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Tayshaun Prince scored 12. Richard Hamilton, who missed the previous game with a bruised right thigh, had 10 points.
It looked like a matchup of struggling teams for much of the night.
Denver was only 1-of-8 to start the game and had just six points before scoring six more in the final 1:09 of the first. The Pistons led 25-12 after the quarter and for the most part, had a comfortable cushion the rest of the game.
“We almost shut them out in the first quarter,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said.
Wide-open shots clanged off rims, passes went through hands and effort was often lacking.
“A little bit more energy y’all,” Rasheed Wallace said walking to the bench during a timeout in the third quarter.
Camby once finished a 3-on-0 break by fumbling a pass and missing a layup all alone under the basket.
“It was an ugly ballgame,” Camby said.
The Pistons play at Indiana on Thursday in the teams’ second meeting since the melee two months ago. “It wasn’t fun the last time we went there and I don’t think it will be fun this time,” Brown said. …. Utah released Elden Campbell on Wednesday, less than a week after acquiring him and a future No. 1 pick from Detroit for Arroyo. If Campbell clears waivers on Friday, the Pistons might bring him back. … The Nuggets are 5-16 on the road and have lost their last nine games at Detroit. … Both teams wore throwback jerseys, and Denver’s were from the 1975-76 season when Brown coached the Nuggets. … Ben Wallace led Detroit in scoring for the second time this season.