The Denver Nuggets have watched this scenario play out a few times already this season — just from the opposite viewpoint.
Ty Lawson had 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead Denver to a 101-94 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
Corey Brewer added 15 points and Andre Iguodala had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who rallied from a slow start in which they trailed by as many as 17 in the first quarter. JaVale McGee also had 12 points for Denver.
"We've had about four or five close games and didn't win," Lawson said. "We've lost a bunch of times when teams came back on us when we were up 17 or 18 points."
This time, the Nuggets trailed 21-4 a little more than five minutes into the game.
"They were the better team the first 7-8 minutes and we couldn't make a shot," Denver coach George Karl said.
So he brought McGee, Brewer and veteran Andre Miller off the bench.
"Our starters, they weren't trying to get good shots. They were kind of going through the motions," Karl added.
The reserves helped Denver pick up the pace and the Pistons couldn't keep up.
"The bench came in and gave us a big lift," Lawson said. "JaVale was dunking, Corey was stealing the ball and getting easy layups and Andre was running the show."
The Nuggets led 48-42 at the half after outscoring the Pistons 31-17 in the second quarter — including 20-6 in the final seven minutes of the first half.
"It can be very frustrating. But I thought we came out and played very well, but you've got to play all four quarters and you've got to give Denver credit," Detroit rookie guard Kyle Singler said. "They played well, kept with it. They fought. It was a good game. We just came up short at the end."
Brandon Knight had 20 points and five assists for the Pistons. Jason Maxiell added 18 points, six blocks and six rebounds, and Rodney Stuckey scored 17 points.
"We got off to a great start. You're not going to win a game 150-14," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "I think the key is, when they made their run, even the last four minutes of the first quarter, the key is this: a team's going to make a run. It's the mistakes we made and how they got them. With that, the mistakes, they multiplied, they came in succession so they become a little bit deflating."
The Nuggets maintained a six- to nine-point lead for most of the second half.
After Stuckey pulled the Pistons within two on a layup with 7:27 remaining, Miller's three-point play with 7:11 left and Brewer's 3-pointer with 6:45 to go put the Nuggets up 82-74.
Danilo Gallinari hit a 3-pointer with 1:48 left to give the Nuggets a 96-89 lead before Lawson's driving layup with 1:15 remaining pushed it to 98-89.
McGee's breakaway dunk in the first half tied it at 41 with 3:17 left in the second and Lawson hit a layup with 2:12 remaining in the first half to give Denver its first lead of the game, 43-41.
Detroit raced off to fast start and led 21-4 with 5:22 left in the first quarter after Greg Monroe hit a pair of free throws.
NOTES: It was the fourth game of a five-game road trip for Denver, which has also played seven of its last eight on the road. "It seems like it has been a six-week road trip," Nuggets coach George Karl said before the game. "Might have been." ... The stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills were less than half full and the crowd was announced at 10, 265. ... 90's Hip Hop trio "Naughty By Nature" performed at halftime.