Detroit and Denver, 186-184 (a quick look back)

On December 13, 1983, the Nuggets and Pistons played the highest scoring game ever, a 186-184 triple-overtime affair.  I thought we could run through a few fast facts about the game:

-Conditions were quite set for a high scoring game.  The Pistons had much of the core of the Bad Boy defensive stalwarts of the late 1980s team but this earlier Pistons team was offense-first.  Detroit was top in the NBA in offense and only 16th on defense (5th in pace).  Denver was its usual all-offense team (2nd on offense and 22nd out 23 teams on defense, 1st in pace).

-You can score a lot without three-pointers!  Or at least you could in the olden days.  Each team was 1-2 from three for the game.  Isiah Thomas took both of Detroit’s shots.  Denver had a chuck from Dan Issel plus a hit by Richard Anderson.

-The Pistons could have won this game much earlier but struggled from the line (37-60).  The two culprits were normally good shooters.  Bill Laimbeer was 5-9 and Thomas was a Shaq-like 10-19.  Isiah had 47 points and 17 assists and should’ve broken 50 points.  By contrast, Denver was a sharp 47-57 from the line.

-Denver seemed to have more foul problems.  Four Nuggets fouled out (T.R. Dunn, Rob Williams, Mike Evans, and Bill Hanzlik).  The only Pistons to foul out was Cliff Levingston (who did so in 13 minutes).

-Denver got 98 points from its starting forward.  Kiki Vandeweghe had 51 points on 21-29 shooting and Alex English had 47 points on 18-30 shooting.  Clearly, Dennis Rodman wasn’t a Piston yet.

-Detroit really needed this game.  This was the fourth game of a four-game road trip and had lost the first three games.   Denver needed it too.  They were also on a three game losing streak at the time.

-Aftermath: Both teams lost their next games.  Detroit had four days off but lost to the Larry Bird Celtics.  There was no apparent cumulative fatigue because the Pistons then won five out of the next six games thereafter.  On the other hand, Denver really struggled.  They went 1-1 in the next two games but then lost five in a row (though most of those games were on the road, where Denver usually struggled anyway).

-Rematch:  The teams met in March in Detroit.  The game was high scoring but not quite like the first meeting.  This time, Denver got revenge, winning 125-121.   The first half picked up pretty quick (Denver led 77-70 at the half) but they slowed down a bit in the second half.


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