With less than two minutes remaining, the Detroit Pistons had a shot at breaking their streak.
Cade Cunningham hit a tough layup to tie the game, that was back-and-forth all night, at 103.
But the Denver Nuggets struck last. Aaron Gordon completed a 3-point play, and the Pistons’ next three possessions came up empty. Former Piston Reggie Jackson iced the game with a free throw, handing the Pistons (2-13) to their 12th straight loss, 107-103, on Monday at Little Caesars Arena.
The Pistons were helped by two early ejections. Nuggets coach Michael Malone was tossed with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter after arguing a call with an official. Then two-time MVP Nikola Jokic joined his head coach in the second, picking up his second tech after arguing a call with 1:22 to play before halftime.
Jokic finished the night with nine points, five rebounds and five assists in 15 minutes.
But even without the superstar and reigning Coach of the Year, the Nuggets put up a fight. The game saw seven ties and six lead changes in the fourth quarter. Detroit led by five early in the fourth, but 3-pointer by Michael Porter Jr. gave Denver the lead, 92-91, with 6:57 remaining.
The Pistons were hurt by turnovers, coughing it up 12 times in the second half after committing just five in the first.
It was a long-awaited return for the Michigan alumnus, who suffered a Grade III left ankle sprain right before training camp opened during the first week of October. Monty Williams had praised his defense and shooting on media day, and his absence left a hole in the rotation at power forward, which the team struggled to fill before signing Kevin Knox two weeks ago.
“He’s a two-way guy, smart,” Williams said on Oct. 4. “He can play with the ball better than I thought, watching him play pickup before we started training camp. He can make a pocket pass, he knows how to play in 0.5. He does a number of things well and he’s smart. Talks on defense. It’s unfortunate that he had an injury, because he was having a great summer. He’s been working on his body. We can’t wait to get him back because he’s gonna add some value to both sides of the ball.”
Livers was a full participant in the team’s practice last Thursday, and his injury status was upgraded to “questionable” ahead of their road game against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. He waited an additional day to make his season debut, though, checking in at the 3:21 mark of the first. He got his first bucket on the ensuing offensive possession, knocking down a midrange jumper to give Detroit the lead, 17-16.
Knox picked up a “Did Not Play” for the first time after a strong season debut against the Chicago Bulls last week. It appears Livers, for now, is the team’s preferred option at backup power forward. Despite being on a minutes restriction, Livers closed the game played 6:39 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Ivey shines in second start
In his first start on Sunday, Ivey came out cold with a nine-point, 3-for-10 shooting performance. In fairness to him, it was a rough night for the entire team during the 29-point loss.
The second-year guard bounced back and then some on Monday, making seven of his first eight shots to tally 15 points through the first three quarters. It was one of his better performances of the season, as the Nuggets struggled to contain his drives.
His gravity appeared to make Cunningham’s life a little easier, and he hit his first bucket of the night — a 3-pointer — midway through the second quarter off of a drive-and-kick from Ivey.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Nikola Jokic ejected, but Detroit Pistons suffer 12th straight loss