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Nuggets’ Faried proves worthy of new deal vs. Pistons

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DENVER — Kenneth Faried showed a big new contract won’t change his style. That suits the Denver Nuggets just fine.

Faried had 22 points and 17 rebounds, guard Arron Afflalo had 15 points in his return to Denver and the Nuggets pulled away to beat the Detroit Pistons 89-79 in the season opener for both teams on Wednesday night.

It was a big night for Faried, who inked a four-year, $50 million deal in training camp. He proved he was worth the investment in just 28 minutes.

“He was huge for us right from the beginning of the game,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said of Faried. “It’s a carryover from the way he played at the end of last season to the summer with the U.S. team, throughout training camp.”

Center Timofey Mozgov had 13 points and 11 rebounds and a key block late to lead Denver to the win.

Forward Josh Smith led Detroit with 25 points. Guard D.J. Augustin had 15 off the bench for the Pistons.

Starting point guard Brandon Jennings had just four shots in 20 minutes of playing time and spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench.

“You go with the guys you think give you the best chance to win,” said Stan Van Gundy, who lost in his debut as the Pistons coach and president. “I wasn’t really upset at him. He played most of each of the first and third. I wasn’t really down on him I just thought we were getting more out of D.J.’s pick-and-rolls for a good part of the game.”

Augustin’s play was a big reason Detroit led 68-67 early in the fourth quarter, but then the Nuggets slumbering offense woke up. Guard Randy Foye and forward Alonzo Gee hit consecutive 3-pointers to put Denver ahead by five.

The Pistons cut the deficit to one when forward Wilson Chandler hit two free throws and Mozgov had a put-back dunk.

Augustin hit a floater to cut it to 79-77 with 3:19 left, just before Detroit center Andre Drummond fouled out of the game.

But Detroit ran out of steam down the stretch. The Pistons missed 10 of their last 12 shots to allow the Nuggets to pull away. Faried hit two free throws and Mozgov another, and then Mozgov tipped in a miss with 1:25 left to put Denver ahead 84-77.

He then blocked guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s layup attempt, and the Nuggets closed it out on the line.

Gee played the entire fourth quarter after sitting for the first three, and his defense on Augustin was a factor.

“We talk about the fact that some of the guys we added to the roster this year bring that defensive mindset,” Shaw said. “Him, Arron Afflalo, guys like that pushing each other in practice. Games where it’s low scoring, a grind-it-out game, we have to be able to win those type of games. Last year we were always on the short side. “

The Nuggets won despite shooting just 35 percent from the field. They held Detroit to 37 percent shooting, which oftentimes took the first open shot available.

“There are certain times in game we can’t take the first shot that looks good,” forward Kyle Singler said. “Sometimes we need to move it around so guys get involved.”

Faried had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half and brought the energy the Nuggets need to be successful this season.

“I’m looking to attack more and help my teammates by stretching the court,” he said.

Faried and Smith were the only two players in double figures at halftime. Smith had 15 on 6-for-12 shooting.

Detroit got a boost from Augustin in the second quarter. The seventh-year pro had eight points and three rebounds in the period to help the Pistons cut Denver’s lead to 42-40 at the break.

The Pistons were short-handed on the frontcourt with the absence of center Greg Monroe. Monroe is serving a two-game suspension for pleading guilty to driving while impaired in September.

“He’s one of our best low-post scorers and he makes things happen,” Jennings said of Monroe. “He was missed but other guys have to step up.”

NOTES: Nuggets F J.J. Hickson begins the season on a five-game suspension for violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. … Pistons F Cartier Martin (plantar fascia strain) will not dress in the opener. G Jodie Meeks is the other inactive for Detroit. … Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said his plan for the three players coming off major injuries — F Danilo Gallinari, G Nate Robinson and C JaVale McGee — were to cap their minutes “in the 20s.” … Pistons rookie G Spencer Dinwiddie played in one preseason game before the season. Dinwiddie, who starred at the University of Colorado, missed the last 18 games for the Buffaloes after tearing his ACL. … The Nuggets inactives were G Gary Harris and G Erick Green.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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