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Murray saves Nuggets from collapse in 95-92 win over Pistons

DENVER (AP) On a positive note, Jamal Murray came through in the clutch for the Denver Nuggets.

On a negative one, Murray needed to come through in the clutch after they nearly squandered a 27-point lead.

Murray scored 33 points, including six in the final minute, and the Nuggets held off the Detroit Pistons 95-92 on Tuesday night to reach the 50-win mark.

Trailing 66-39 at halftime, Detroit cut it to one on a 3-pointer by Reggie Jackson with 11.2 seconds remaining before Murray hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead. Blake Griffin's last-gasp 3-point attempt bounded away.

''It was a great win. So let's not make it a downer,'' Murray said. ''We closed the game like we do most times.''

At 50-23, the Nuggets moved into a tie with Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference. It's the first 50-win season for Denver since the 2012-13 squad went 57-25.

Coming off a 36-point loss at Indiana on Sunday, Denver coach Michael Malone challenged his team to show more energy. The Nuggets responded by jumping out to a 27-9 lead after the first quarter and extending it by the break. The Pistons outscored Denver 53-29 in the second half to make a game out of a contest that looked all but over.

''The first, we were dominating. The second, they were dominating us,'' said Nikola Jokic, who finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for his 51st double-double this season. ''We were lucky we won the game.''

And the Pistons were left lamenting their first-half effort.

''It makes me even more mad that we played the way we should have played in the second half,'' Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. ''We executed well in the second half but against great teams you can't ease your way into a game.''

Griffin had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the playoff-chasing Pistons, who finished a 1-4 road trip. Andre Drummond had 13 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out.

''The second half, that was winning basketball,'' Griffin said. ''Us in the first half, I don't know who that was.''

This was how well things were going for Denver in the first half: With a second left, Jokic hit a fadeaway at the buzzer to increase the lead to 66-39. The Nuggets would end up needing it.

It was a forgettable opening quarter for the Pistons, who missed their first 11 shots and wound up 4 of 29. The nine points were the fewest Denver has permitted in a quarter this season.

In the second half, Denver committed 10 of its 14 turnovers as the Pistons chipped away at the lead.

''Give them credit,'' Malone said. ''But we allowed them to get back in the game.''

TIP-INS

Pistons: Jackson had 17 points. ... The Pistons had more fast-break points (8-2). The teams each had 44 points in the paint.

Nuggets: G Malik Beasley missed the game for personal reasons. ... Denver leads the West with a 31-6 home mark. ... Murray was 6 of 7 from the free throw line. He's 32 of 33 in March. ... Mason Plumlee had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul Millsap added 10 points and 13 rebounds. ... The Nuggets are 23-1 when holding teams under 100 points.

TOUGH STRETCH

Of Denver's final nine games, seven are against teams currently in playoff position. Plumlee appreciates the tough schedule.

''You want what's going to be reality in the playoffs. That's what we'll get - a lot of good teams,'' Plumlee said. ''It's going to be a good look going into the playoffs.''

NO PRESSURE

Casey is relishing the playoff chase. No pressure, either.

''Everybody had us eighth or ninth or whatever, anyway,'' Casey said. ''Again, our goal is to build. You're not going to do it fast, wave a wand. ... I know what the big picture is, what's in front of us, what we want to do for this team now that I've been here for a year.''

SECOND-HALF BLUES

It was the 15th time Denver scored 29 points or fewer in a half - and the first time the Nuggets won one of those games, according to the team.

''On the positive, we were able to pull the game off,'' Millsap said.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Start a two-game homestand Thursday against Orlando.

Nuggets: At Houston on Thursday and in Oklahoma City the next night.

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Key Players
B. Griffin
23 PF
N. Jokic
15 C
31.5 Min. Per Game 31.5
20.2 Pts. Per Game 20.2
7.6 Ast. Per Game 7.6
10.8 Reb. Per Game 10.8
46.3 Field Goal % 50.5
46.3 Three Point % 50.4
74.9 Free Throw % 83.1
  DEN team rebound 0:01
  Blake Griffin missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:01
+ 1 Jamal Murray made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:09
+ 3 Reggie Jackson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Blake Griffin 0:11
+ 2 Jamal Murray made jump shot, assist by Nikola Jokic 0:16
+ 2 Jamal Murray made floating jump shot 0:50
  Full timeout called 1:06
  Traveling violation turnover on Jamal Murray 1:06
  Reggie Jackson missed jump shot 1:30
  Out of bounds turnover on Gary Harris 1:49
+ 2 Reggie Jackson made layup 2:00
Team Stats
Points 92 95
Field Goals 36-102 (35.3%) 37-87 (42.5%)
3-Pointers 11-42 (26.2%) 7-27 (25.9%)
Free Throws 9-13 (69.2%) 14-20 (70.0%)
Total Rebounds 61 65
Offensive 17 12
Defensive 39 45
Team 5 8
Assists 19 22
Steals 5 3
Blocks 2 2
Turnovers 6 14
Fouls 21 19
Technicals 1 0
29 PTS, 15 REB, 5 AST
33 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST
1234T
away team logo Pistons 37-37 930233092
home team logo Nuggets 50-23 2739151495
Team Stats
away team logo Pistons 37-37 92.5 PPG 44.5 RPG 22.5 APG
home team logo Nuggets 50-23 105.0 PPG 43.5 RPG 27.0 APG
Key Players
B. Griffin PF PPG RPG APG 0.0 FG%
J. Murray PG 20.5 PPG 2.0 RPG 2.0 APG 40.0 FG%
Top Scorers
B. Griffin PF 29 PTS 15 REB 5 AST
J. Murray PG 33 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
35.3 FG% 42.5
26.2 3PT FG% 25.9
69.2 FT% 70.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
B. Griffin 29 15 5 12/32 2/10 3/4 2 37 1 0 2 6 9 +14 53
R. Jackson 17 4 5 7/17 2/9 1/2 4 30 1 0 1 1 3 +8 31
A. Drummond 13 17 3 5/15 0/0 3/5 6 29 2 2 1 7 10 +11 39
W. Ellington 12 0 0 4/9 4/8 0/0 1 29 0 0 0 0 0 +10 12
B. Brown 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 13 0 0 0 1 0 -5 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
B. Griffin 29 15 5 12/32 2/10 3/4 2 37 1 0 2 6 9 +14 53
R. Jackson 17 4 5 7/17 2/9 1/2 4 30 1 0 1 1 3 +8 31
A. Drummond 13 17 3 5/15 0/0 3/5 6 29 2 2 1 7 10 +11 39
W. Ellington 12 0 0 4/9 4/8 0/0 1 29 0 0 0 0 0 +10 12
B. Brown 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 13 0 0 0 1 0 -5 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. Kennard 8 7 2 3/9 2/5 0/0 0 30 0 0 2 0 7 +16 17
I. Smith 5 5 1 2/9 1/3 0/0 2 17 0 0 0 1 4 -11 12
L. Galloway 4 2 2 1/6 0/5 2/2 3 22 0 0 0 0 2 -27 10
T. Maker 2 3 1 1/3 0/2 0/0 2 20 1 0 0 0 3 -18 8
Z. Pachulia 2 2 0 1/2 0/0 0/0 0 5 0 0 0 1 1 -10 4
J. Leuer 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 -3 0
K. Lucas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Robinson III - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Mykhailiuk - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Whitehead - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Calderon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 92 56 19 36/102 11/42 9/13 21 235 5 2 6 17 39 -15 187
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Murray 33 3 5 12/19 3/7 6/7 5 38 1 0 3 0 3 +12 44
N. Jokic 23 15 2 10/24 0/5 3/5 3 33 0 0 3 3 12 -9 39
P. Millsap 10 13 5 2/10 1/3 5/6 2 40 1 1 3 2 11 +14 32
W. Barton 10 7 1 4/13 2/6 0/1 2 33 1 0 0 1 6 +4 20
G. Harris 3 3 2 1/5 1/2 0/0 3 35 0 0 3 0 3 -5 7
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Murray 33 3 5 12/19 3/7 6/7 5 38 1 0 3 0 3 +12 44
N. Jokic 23 15 2 10/24 0/5 3/5 3 33 0 0 3 3 12 -9 39
P. Millsap 10 13 5 2/10 1/3 5/6 2 40 1 1 3 2 11 +14 32
W. Barton 10 7 1 4/13 2/6 0/1 2 33 1 0 0 1 6 +4 20
G. Harris 3 3 2 1/5 1/2 0/0 3 35 0 0 3 0 3 -5 7
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
M. Plumlee 10 12 3 5/7 0/0 0/0 2 22 0 1 1 4 8 +1 28
M. Morris 6 1 4 3/7 0/2 0/1 0 23 0 0 1 1 0 -5 14
T. Craig 0 3 0 0/2 0/2 0/0 2 13 0 0 0 1 2 +3 3
I. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Goodwin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lyles - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Welsh - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Beasley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lydon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Hernangomez - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Porter Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 95 57 22 37/87 7/27 14/20 19 237 3 2 14 12 45 +15 187