Foul as fuel, Nuggets push past Pistons easily Sunday | Denver Nuggets

There’s only one thing Peyton Watson apologized for following his performance against Detroit on Sunday at Ball Arena.

After Watson rejected Kevin Knox II at the rim late in the third quarter, Denver’s second-year wing picked up the loose ball and passed ahead to Christian Braun, who finished in transition. As Braun went up for his layup, Watson got shoved to the ground from behind. He took a moment to collect himself, laying on the court in front of the Nuggets’ bench, before getting up and expressing his displeasure at the closest Piston. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope held him back.

“Things just happen so fast in this league. I had no idea who had even pushed me. I actually took my anger out on Alec Burks,” Watson said. “So, I apologize for that.”

The problem was Burks didn’t touch Watson. It was Pistons rookie Ausar Thompson, who was eventually assessed a Flagrant 1 for the foul. Regardless of who the guilty party was, Watson used the play as a spark.

Watson, who missed the only two shots he took in the first half, had four points before the foul was committed. He finished with 15, scoring nine of those points in the final 2 minutes and 22 seconds of the third. It started with a free throw, the result of the flagrant following a review. From there, he hit his first 3-pointer, threw down a one-handed dunk in transition off a behind-the-back pass from Reggie Jackson. After the emphatic finish, Watson took a moment to scream toward the crowd while the Pistons raced down court for a layup. He’s not apologizing for that one.

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“I try to be good about not celebrating too much. You know, I dunk pretty much every game, and I rarely ever celebrate, but I just needed to let some emotion out on that one. I think coach understood that,” Watson said. “We’ll definitely see it on film, but I’m willing to live with that one.”

The Pistons continued to live with Watson shooting 3s, and the 21-year-old put the Nuggets up 23 after sinking his second 3, this one from the left wing, in the final seconds of the third quarter. A couple of free throws early in the fourth quarter capped Watson’s night. In addition to the 15 points on 10 shots, Watson added six rebounds, one assist, one steal and the block that preceded the push.

“I got up a little heated, but it was the energy I needed,” Watson said. “I fed off of it, and I came to play in that third quarter and beginning of the fourth. It definitely knocked some energy into me, and I’m glad I was able to just go upward from there.”

Watson wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a clean look at the controversial play. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he didn’t see the sequence until he looked up to the jumbotron for a review. He didn’t mind Watson’s reaction, even if it was a little misdirected.

“He was fired up,” Malone said. “I love it, man. I love guys that get fired up and get emotional. I think that shows that you care.”

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