Iguodala Takes Over As Nuggets Win Home Opener
DENVER (AP) First, Andre Iguodala threw a bad pass. Then, he took too many steps.
Two costly turnovers late in a close game. In his Denver home debut, no less.
Miffed by his miscues, Iguodala went to work, scoring six of his 17 points over the final three minutes to help the Denver Nuggets hold off the Detroit Pistons 109-97 on Tuesday night.
“When I make a mistake, I really want to make it up,” Iguodala said.
And make it up he certainly did as he played a big role in the Nuggets snapping a three-game skid.
Even before tipoff, Iguodala got the capacity crowd riled up by grabbing the microphone and giving an impassioned speech to the fans: “This is a big year for us! We need your support!”
Then, he came through at crunch time. Not just with his offensive exploits, either, but his defensive intensity as well. He also added 10 rebounds.
“He was a presence everywhere, on every part of the court,” Danilo Gallinari said. “He’s great for us when he plays like that.”
The Nuggets broke out their new canary yellow uniforms for their home opener and played pretty snazzy, especially late in the third quarter when they began opening up a 17-point lead. The Pistons rallied in the final quarter, before Iguodala closed the door with two baskets and a pair of free throws.
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Greg Monroe scored 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who dropped their fourth straight. Detroit and Washington (0-2) are the only winless teams left in the NBA this season.
“We showed a lot of fight,” Monroe said. “We have to push through. At that point, three minutes left, seven-point game, that’s definitely a winnable game. We have to find a way to win tight games like that.”
Early in the fourth, Iguodala and Corey Brewer hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Nuggets a 96-80 lead. Moments later, JaVale McGee brought the crowd to its feet with a thunderous dunk off a lob from Andre Miller.
The Nuggets appeared to be cruising to the win with 7:41 remaining, but the Pistons made things interesting when Jonas Jerebko stole the ball from Iguodala and went in for the dunk.
Iguodala turned the ball over again when he couldn’t find anyone to pass the ball to and traveled.
Then, he began his scoring spree, leading coach George Karl to quip after the game that he would be all right with Iguodala doing that all the time, earlier in the game even.
But Karl understands why Iguodala is slowly integrating his way into the offense. It’s just his style.
“He’s not going to shake the boat,” Karl said. “He’s going to figure out how we like to play, and figure out what’s a good shot and what’s not a good shot.”
The Pistons played their third of a winding six-game road swing. They return to California on Wednesday night to play Sacramento, before going to Oklahoma City and finishing up in Houston.
Rodney Stuckey came into the game in a shooting funk, hitting just 1 of his last 23 jumpers. But he found his range against the Nuggets as he finished with 17 points.
“He will always be a big part of our success,” Monroe said. “We need him to play like he did tonight, attacking the goal, getting to the free throw line. It was good to see that.”
Like Stuckey, Gallinari was struggling with his form. He spent nearly 90 minutes after Monday’s practice going through shooting drills designed to restore his confidence. He had it going early, but fell off as the young Italian forward had eight points on 3 of 11 shooting.
The Nuggets led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but could never pull away from the pesky Pistons. Kenneth Faried scored 12 points in the first half to send Denver into the locker room with a 58-51 lead at intermission.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said he’s trying to get his team to buy into the concept of being more unselfish.
“All the best teams are,” Frank said. “Look, who’s the most coachable player on the Spurs? Tim Duncan. Who’s the most coachable player on the Celtics? Kevin Garnett. Who’s the most coachable player in Oklahoma City? Kevin Durant. Who’s most coachable player of the Miami Heat? LeBron James. This is not calculus. This is not trying to figure out the next Pythagorean theorem.
“This is easy: Your players have to unite and inspire by how they play. It’s that simple.”
Notes: Pistons F Corey Maggette sat out a fourth straight game with a strained left calf. … The Pistons were 6 of 12 from behind the 3-point line. … Former Nuggets F LaPhonso Ellis brought out the game ball before tipoff. … The Nuggets avoided their first 0-4 start since 1998. … Denver outrebounded the Pistons 21-8 on the offensive glass.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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