It is usually a mistake to get into a shootout with the Denver Nuggets.
The Detroit Pistons learned all about it at Pontiac, Mich., Saturday night when, despite 40 points by Isiah Thomas, they were beaten by the Nuggets, 151-142.
The Pistons, the No. 2 offensive team, should have remembered that the Nuggets are No. 1.
The Pistons and Nuggets were shooting about the way they did Dec. 13, 1983, when they combined for the highest scoring game in National Basketball Assn. history. However, that was a triple-overtime affair, which the Pistons won, 186-184.
This was a 48-minute game, instead of a 63-minute marathon. The difference this time was that the Pistons, although they pulled within two points late in the game, couldn't send it into overtime.
It was the second home loss in a row for the Pistons after they won their first 10 at the Silverdome. The shooting in the first half for both sides was outstanding.
In the first 24 minutes, the teams were 61 for 90 (62.2%). With two minutes left in the half, the Pistons led, 68-62.
Then came the Denver blitz. Before intermission, the Nuggets outscored the Pistons, 14-2. In the first four minutes of the third quarter, they had a 16-9 spurt that gave them a 96-79 cushion. At times, with Thomas and Vinnie Johnson firing away in the fourth quarter, it didn't seem enough of a cushion.
But Alex English, who scored 34 points, and Blair Rasmussen and Jay Vincent, who were spectacular off the bench, made sure the Nuggets lasted. Rasmussen had 23 points in 21 minutes, and Vincent had 30 in 26 minutes.
In addition to leading all scorers, Thomas had 17 assists.
Adrian Dantley and Bill Laimbeer were among the 13 players scoring in double figures, but Dantley had only 16 points and Laimbeer 14 for the Pistons.
Houston 111, Washington 100--According to Coach Bill Fitch, the "chemistry" isn't right yet for his Rockets.
If he is correct, the Rockets really figure to get tough. In this game at Landover, Md., Houston put on a blitz early in the game and at the start of the second half to win its third game in a row on the road.
The trade with Golden State is looking better all the time. The Rockets wiped out a 6-4 deficit early and went on a 17-2 spurt and they scored the first 16 points in the second half to open up a 73-40 lead.
Although Fitch said this was not one of the best games for Sleepy Floyd or Joe Barry Carroll, the two ex-Warriors obtained in the Ralph Sampson deal continued to contribute.
The 6-foot 3-inch Floyd became a rebounder in this one. He had 10 rebounds, 16 points and 7 assists. Carroll came off the bench to contribute 16 points and 8 rebounds.
"The longer Sleepy's around, the more he's going to be able to control situations," Fitch said. "And J.B.'s coming along just fine."
When he brought the two regulars in at the start of the second quarter, they got hot. Corzine went 5 for 5 and Paxson 6 for 7 in a 25-6 spurt that broke open a close game.
The Bulls' Michael Jordan had the fourth triple-double of his career, getting 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Warriors (4-21) made only one of 12 shots in the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Bird scored 27 points in the first half.
Indiana 99, Milwaukee 97--Chuck Person, who had only 9 points in a loss to Detroit Wednesday night at home, came back with 22 at Milwaukee to lead the Pacers' comeback.
Jack Sikma missed a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
Cleveland 120, Phoenix 107--Center Brad Daugherty was out with a virus, so 6-10 Mark West did his best to make up for it at Richfield, Ohio. West had 15 rebounds and 13 points as the Cavaliers breezed.
Dallas 116, San Antonio 109--Mark Aguirre scored 23 points, including a three-point goal with 1:30 left at San Antonio that put the Mavericks ahead for good. The Spurs had won 11 in a row at home.
Sacramento 107, Utah 105--Reggie Theus sank a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer at Sacramento to give the Kings the victory. Theus scored a season-high 36 points.
Seattle 116, Philadelphia 114--Dale Ellis made a three-point basket with four seconds left at Seattle to win this one for the SuperSonics.
Charles Barkley scored 5 of his 34 points in the last minute to give the 76ers a 114-113 lead just before Ellis hit the bomb.