Monroe, Drummond lead Pistons past Nuggets

BY foxsports • February 6, 2015

AUBURN HILLS -- Brian Shaw told his team exactly how to beat the Detroit Pistons.


Forty-eight minutes later, he was wishing they had listened.

Greg Monroe had his first career 20/20 game, finishing with 21 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, and Andre Drummond added 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Pistons fought off a late rally to beat Denver 98-88.

"I told our team that we had to keep their two big guys off the glass," Shaw said, looking at the box score in frustration. "So we let Greg Monroe have the biggest rebounding night of his career and let Drummond had 13 more. So that obviously didn't work."

The win and the statistical milestones were even more important to Monroe than they might have been on another night. His maternal grandmother, Althea Dixon, passed away earlier in the day in his native New Orleans.

"That was crazy," said Monroe, who reached the mark when he hit a free throw with 36 seconds to play. "This means a lot, especially after losing my grandmother. This definitely means a lot to me."

Monroe's effort impressed Stan Van Gundy, especially under the circumstances.

"Greg was fabulous tonight," Van Gundy said. "He dominated. They tried to play him with smaller people, and they did a good job with their double teams, but they didn't have anyone who could guard him."

When Monroe was double teamed late, he started passing the ball, including two key assists as the Pistons struggled to score in the fourth quarter.

"I'm always looking to make the right play, no matter if I have going or not," he said. "If someone is cutting to the basket and they are open, I'm going to throw it to them. Anyone can get a basket in my eyes."

Monroe and Drummond's dominance inside -- the Pistons had a 52-36 advantage on points in the paint -- was badly needed on a night when their teammates couldn't hit jump shots. The Pistons went 4-for-24 on 3-pointers, including 1-for-11 in the first half and 0-for-6 in the fourth quarter. 

Three of the four makes, though, came in a 70-second stretch of the third quarter, helping them turn a 12-point lead into 18. The Pistons still held that margin at the end of the period, and needed all of it, as they only managed eight points in the first 11 minutes of the fourth.

"We were playing defense, rebounding and pushing the ball," said D.J. Augustin. "If we had kept doing that all game, then we wouldn't need to shoot 3-pointers. When all those things are clicking for us, we can be dangerous."

The Pistons are now 20-31, leaving them only two games behind Miami and Brooklyn, who are tied for the Eastern Conference's eighth playoff spot. Boston is only percentage points behind Detroit, with the Pacers another game back.

With 31 games to go, Detroit knows it controls its own destiny. They've shown themselves they can win games without Brandon Jennings, but if they want to make it back into the postseason, they will have to avoid the offensive droughts that let Denver back into the game in the fourth quarter.

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