Smith has 31 points, Nuggets beat Pistons

J.R. Smith scored 26 of his season-high 31 points in the second half, helping the Denver Nuggets pull away for a 131-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.

Smith was 9 of 15 from 3-point range for Denver, 7-2 since the blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York on Feb. 22. Nene added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Ty Lawson had 15 points and 11 assists.

Chris Wilcox led Detroit with 21 points. Richard Hamilton added 15 points and Ben Gordon 13.

Down by six at the half, the Pistons tied it at 72 on Greg Monroe's putback with 6:46 left in the third.

But the Nuggets countered with a tear, closing the period with a 21-2 run to take a 93-74 advantage.

Raymond Felton hit two 3-pointers during the surge and Lawson and Smith also connected from long range. The Nuggets punctuated the run with Felton's alley-oop setting up a thundering dunk by Kenyon Martin.

The Pistons never threatened after that. They concluded their three-game trip without a win and lost for the 11th time in their last 14 games.

The Nuggets scored the game's first nine points and led by 11 before settling for a 66-60 halftime lead.

In a nifty sequence, Chris Andersen blocked Will Bynum's shot to start a fast break that Al Harrington finished with a layup to put Denver up 41-30 with 10:05 left in the second quarter.

Later, Nene muscled a dunk over Gordon despite being fouled and made the free throw for a three-point play to account for 17 points in the first half.

NOTES: The Nuggets were without Danilo Gallinari (toe), who missed a sixth game since breaking his left big toe at Portland on Feb. 25, and Arron Afflalo, who missed a second consecutive game since straining his left hamstring against the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Denver completed a two-game sweep of the season series with Detroit for the first time since 1993-94. Coming in, Detroit had won seven of the previous nine against the Nuggets. ... The Pistons are 7-27 on the road this season. ... Smith's previous season high was 30 on Nov. 28 against Phoenix.