NBA: Nikola Jokic ejected, but Nuggets still beat Pistons

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) goes to the locker room after receiving his second technical foul in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT — Reggie Jackson scored 21 points to lead Denver in the fourth quarter after two-time MVP Nikola Jokic was ejected in the first half and the Nuggets handed the Detroit Pistons their 12th straight loss 107-103 on Monday night.

Jackson had eight points and three assists in the final quarter as he and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20 points) shined against their former team. Michael Porter Jr. finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the defending NBA champion Nuggets (10-4), who ended a two-game skid.

“We were desperate today because we were 0-2 away and we really needed a win,” Caldwell-Pope said. We knew they would be fighting hard because they hadn’t won a game in a while, but they did it.

Both Jokic and Denver coach Michael Malone were ejected after altercations. Malone was ejected for coming onto the court and disputing a decision late in the first quarter, and Jokic was ejected for a second technical error with 1:22 left in the second period.

“I think Nikola was concerned about my well-being,” Malone joked. “It’s hard to watch the game on TV – we hugged each other when we made good plays, and I swore in Serbian when we made bad ones.”

Jokic scored nine points, five rebounds and five assists in 15 minutes. Jamal Murray (hamstring) missed his seventh straight game.

Cade Cunningham had 27 points and nine assists for the Pistons (2-13), and Marvin Bagley III finished with 18 points. Detroit has lost 36 of its last 40 games dating back to February.

“If you look at that stretch, there were a lot of losses, but I think there were some positives as well,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said. – There were just too many fouls and too many offensive rebounds throughout the game.

Aaron Gordon’s three-point play gave the Nuggets a 106-103 lead with 1:25 left, and Denver blocked shots on Detroit’s next three possessions. This allowed the Nuggets to cut the clock to 11 seconds and Jackson hit one of two free throws to make it 107-103.

“Our guys know that if you want to win the game by one possession on the road, you have to stop early,” Malone said. “KCP was probably playing defense when Reggie was beaten on the rebound, came up and made the stop without fouling.”

The Pistons didn’t score in the final 1:41, missing their final four shots.

The Nuggets outscored the Pistons 25-24 in the third quarter to take an 81-79 lead, but Stanley Umude had eight points and an assist as Detroit went on a fourth straight 10-3 run.

Denver struggled to score without Jokic, and Jaden Ivey’s free throws gave Detroit a 97-94 lead with 3:53 left. Jackson responded with a three-pointer to tie the game.

“It’s obviously difficult,” Ivey said. “Every person in this locker room wants to win. We want to win for ourselves, the coaches, the organization, the fans and the city.

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Nuggets: Wednesday at Orlando.

Pistons: At Indiana on Friday for an intraseason tournament game.


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