AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—George Karl loves watching his players put up big offensive numbers.
He just wishes they would play a little more defense.
The problem? They gave up 136.
“We have a defensive personality that is a little scary right now—we’re giving up a lot of points to everyone,” Karl said. “If you had told me we’d shoot 60 percent and score 120 against the Detroit Pistons, I would have been happy, but we need to find some pride on defense.”
The 136 points were the most the Pistons had scored in regulation since a 140-109 victory over Orlando in 1990.
“It was impressive to be able to score that many points,” Chauncey Billups said. “That’s their style of play—they just want to outscore you.”
The Pistons have shown great versatility in the last week, beating San Antonio 84-80 in a defensive struggle, then shooting a combined 63 percent on 3-pointers in wins over New Orleans and Denver.
“That’s the thing—we don’t have to play one style,” said Pistons coach Flip Saunders. “We went out and played San Antonio in a grind-it-out game, and this was a little different. We’re not afraid to get out and run. We had 42 assists tonight. That’s a lot of assists.”
The Pistons scored a season-high 73 points in the first half, getting at least four points from 10 different players, and led by 22.
“We just didn’t play well at all in the first half,” Allen Iverson said. “When you are playing a team like that, you can’t dig yourselves a hole.”
Denver narrowed the gap to 83-73 midway through the third, but couldn’t get an extended string of stops, and the Pistons still had a 100-89 advantage at quarter’s end.
“We have to start helping each other on defense,” Iverson said. “That’s not happening right now.”
Rasheed Wallace then put the game away with eight points in the first two minutes of the fourth, giving the Pistons a 110-93 lead.
“Sheed was just leaning back and firing,” Karl said. “The Pistons would have beaten any team in the NBA tonight.”
Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 24 points and Wallace scored 21. Billups added 14 points and 10 assists for Detroit, which had seven players in double figures.
“That was fun,” Hamilton said. “We knew it was going to be a high-tempo game, but we came out ready to play and we made plays for each other.”
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 27 points, while Iverson had 20 points and 11 assists. Denver also had seven players in double figures.
The Nuggets started quickly, leading 14-9 after five minutes, but it didn’t take Detroit long to take advantage of Denver’s porous defense.
The Pistons shot 63 percent on their way to a 34-point first quarter, then went 5-of-7 on 3-pointers in a 39-point second quarter. Detroit also outrebounded the Nuggets 24-12 in the first half.
Hamilton started the game wearing a jersey that had his last name spelled “Hamiltion,” but changed it during the first quarter. … Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders attended the game. … Iverson will make his return to Philadelphia on Wednesday. … The Pistons and Nuggets played the highest-scoring game in NBA history, a 186-184 Pistons victory in triple overtime on Dec. 13, 1983. … Linas Kleiza was thrown out of the game in the final minute for arguing a call.