Michael Malone After Nuggets Survive Cade Cunningham, Pistons: ‘We Got Lucky’

The Nuggets barely beat the lowly Pistons on Tuesday, and those are the things that can happen when you commit 25 turnovers on the road.Nikola Jokic

Nonetheless, final score: Nuggets 110, Pistons 105 — though it was hardly the stuff of which NBA dreams are made.

“It’s hard to beat your opponent while you’re beating yourself,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters, via Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “We got lucky tonight, we got away with it. And our defense was able to do that.”

On top of the Nuggets coughing up 38 points to the Pistons on those turnovers, they also had to survive a remarkable performance from rookie guard Cade Cunningham. The No. 1 overall pick, Cunningham had a career night by erupting for 34 points, including 6-of-9 shooting on 3-pointers.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic is still on the team, and he silenced the already sparse Pistons crowd in the end — compiling 28 points, as well as a whopping 21 rebounds and nine assists.

Nonetheless, Malone said the Nuggets (25-21) have to do a better job of focusing, taking care of the ball, defending.

“These are definitely the dog days of the NBA season,” he said. “I think a lot of teams, players, coaches, staff, media, I think everybody’s probably a little bit tired. It’s been a long grind. … We just can’t rely on the offense to carry the day.”

Jeff Green added 20 points for Denver and Aaron Gordon scored 16.

The Pistons (11-36) received 21 points from Saddiq Bey, who along with Cunningham, offers hope that things won’t always be this way.

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