Pistons-Nuggets Preview

Coach Brian Shaw isn’t surprised the Denver Nuggets have been pulling out victories over some of the NBA’s top teams despite his club not being a playoff contender.

He would just like to see them play better against teams in the Nuggets’ situation.

Denver seeks its fourth victory in five games Wednesday night while dealing an 11th straight road loss to the Detroit Pistons, who will be without starting big man Andre Drummond.

The Nuggets (30-37) likely will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, which is also the last season they finished below .500. Their last two victories, though, were at Miami on Friday and against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, snapping the Pacific Division leaders’ 11-game winning streak with a 110-100 victory.

Denver ended the contest on a 14-2 run. J.J. Hickson had 21 points and 11 rebounds off the bench while Kenneth Faried added 18 and 16, respectively.

"Our last two victories against the caliber of competition that we were playing against just shows our guys that we can play with anybody on any given night," said Shaw, whose club also beat the Clippers last month as well as Indiana and Oklahoma City in January.

Sandwiched between the two latest wins, though, was a loss to under-.500 Atlanta on Saturday. The only three losses in the Nuggets’ past eight games were all to teams with losing records.

"What we have to strive for is the consistency when we play teams that aren’t those elite teams," Shaw said. "(We have) to be able to come back after a win like (Monday’s) and be able to play solid against a team that is maybe just natural not to get as hyped up for."

The Pistons (25-41) would certainly qualify, and they routed Denver 126-109 on Feb. 8. Ty Lawson left just before halftime with a left rib fracture that would force him to miss nine games. He’s played in the last nine and finished with 19 points against the Clippers.

The Nuggets lost eight times during Lawson’s absence.

"We got our engine back in Ty," Shaw said. "When he was out, it was no secret (that) we struggled in every aspect of the game. He exudes confidence and gives off confidence to our guys when he’s out there on the floor with them."

The Pistons hope to overcome the loss of Drummond, who suffered a neck injury in the first quarter of a 112-104 overtime loss to Indiana on Saturday. Coach John Loyer said he’s hoping Drummond, averaging 13.1 points and 12.8 rebounds, can return Friday against Phoenix.

Detroit has dropped 12 of 15 and is mired in a 10-game road losing streak, its longest since an 11-game skid Feb. 23-April 5, 2011.

The Pistons, who last won on the road Jan. 18 at Washington, are beginning a four-game trip.

"If you win the first one, it makes things a lot easier," Loyer told the team’s official website. "Both Denver and Phoenix are very high-scoring teams, so you’ve got to do a good job in transition. You want to get a win as quick as you can and that starts with Denver on Wednesday. You don’t want to wait for the last couple."

The Pistons ended a six-game losing streak to the Nuggets last month as Brandon Jennings had 35 points and 12 assists while Josh Smith finished with 30 points, 10 boards and eight assists.