DETROIT — Markus Howard scored a career-high 20 points, Nikola Jokic had a triple-double and the Denver Nuggets moved closer to a higher playoff seed with a 104-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Jokic had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for Denver (47-24). The Nuggets improved to 3-0 on a four-game road trip that finishes the regular season.
The Pistons (20-51) lost for the 11th time in 13 games. Hamadou Diallo led the Pistons with 18 points, Tyler Cook scored 17 and Deividas Sirvydis added a career-high 16. The Pistons only dressed eight players, with the oldest being 25-year-old Jahlil Okafor.
The first half turned into an unexpected scoring duel between Sirvydis and Howard. The rookies each had a career-high 16 points in the half, with Jokic adding 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as Denver took a 57-53 lead.
Jokic finished off the triple-double early in the third quarter, and he and Howard both finished the period with 20 points as the Nuggets pulled out to an 87-74 lead.
Denver’s reserves didn’t have any trouble finishing off the game, leading by as many as 19.
Nuggets: Coach Michael Malone rested his starters for most of the second half. Howard led the Nuggets with 32 minutes and Jokic didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Pistons: Sirvydis didn’t score in the second half, leaving the game with a leg injury. That left the Pistons with seven healthy players for the fourth quarter. Sirvydis went 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, while the rest of the team went 2-30.
Nuggets: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday to finish the regular season.
Pistons: Host the Miami Heat on Sunday to finish the season.