February 05, 2015

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy can accept when the Pistons simply get beat by a better team despite their best effort.

He wasn't happy at all with Detroit's loss in Denver last month.

The Pistons look to avoid their first three-game skid since late December by defeating the visiting Nuggets for just the third time in 12 meetings Wednesday night.

Detroit (27-26) scored its fewest points in 19 games and committed 16 turnovers in Monday's 103-89 home loss to Atlantic Division-leading Toronto, which took advantage of nearly every mistake and shot 55.7 percent, the highest of any Pistons opponent this season.

Andre Drummond finished with 12 points - including a heave from the opposite free-throw line at the third-quarter buzzer - and 13 rebounds. Van Gundy praised Marcus Morris, who scored 14 points and added six assists while passing out of numerous double-teams.

Detroit fell 112-104 at Indiana on Saturday and is on the verge of dropping three straight for the first time since Dec. 23-29.

"We've got to get better. I've got to get better. Players have got to get better, but I don't leave here upset at our team," Van Gundy said. "If we bring that kind of effort every night, I don't think people are going to make all those shots every night and I think we will shoot the ball better and we'll be in games and have a chance to win. I'm not discouraged about (Monday's game)."

Van Gundy wasn't nearly as complimentary after the first meeting with the Nuggets (21-32) on Jan. 23, saying the Pistons "didn't want to make an effort" in the second half. Detroit led by as many as 14 before Denver outscored it 39-20 in the third quarter.

Danilo Gallinari scored the last of his 30 points on a fadeaway jumper with 23.8 seconds remaining that put the Nuggets ahead for good in a 104-101 victory. He had 24 points and seven assists Monday, but Denver was on the receiving end of a tough defeat this time as Joe Johnson banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Brooklyn a 105-104 victory.

Kenneth Faried had 22 points and 13 rebounds and gave the Nuggets the lead on a runner with 1.3 seconds remaining before Johnson's shot snapped Denver's two-game winning streak.

''I thought it was over,'' Faried said. ''I didn't think (Johnson's shot) had a chance. He threw it up. But shooters are going shoot and they're going to make big shots. He's known for making big shots like that and he did it against us.''

Coach Mike Malone praised the effort of Will Barton, who went 4 of 7 from the field and scored nine points off the bench. Since shooting 2 of 10 and scoring seven points against Detroit, Barton has scored above his season average of 15.4 five times in nine games and is shooting 53.5 percent over his last four.

''He's been very impressive," Malone said. "He's up for Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year for a reason, right? The numbers he puts up, the scoring, how efficient he does it ... I'd be lying if said I expected him to be our second leading scorer and doing what he's doing.''

Morris scored 20 points in the first meeting for Detroit, which will be without starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at least until after the All-Star break because of a groin strain.

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