Dallas Deals Detroit First Defeat
Dallas 119, Detroit 82
DALLAS, Nov. 19 (Ticker) -- In a trip to Big D, Detroit was done in by Dirk and Damp.
The Detroit Pistons suffered their first loss of the season in resounding fashion as they were ambushed 119-82 by the Dallas Mavericks, who got big games from Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier.
Detroit was one win shy of the club record for best undefeated start established by the 1970-71 squad. However, the Pistons never fired and were run out of the American Airlines Center by the Mavericks, who sped to a 26-point first-quarter lead and never looked back.
"I told my staff after the game that if the All-Star ballot came out (Saturday) instead of two days ago, Dallas would have eight or nine guys on the ballot," Saunders said. "They kicked our butts. Every which way you can get beat, we got beat.
"They were smart. They knew we played a tough game last night and we'd been on the road back and forth the last couple of weeks. They jumped on things and played aggressive."
Nowitzki, a four-time All-Star, collected 23 points and eight rebounds in three quarters. He got the better of defensive demon Rasheed Wallace, who showed his frustration late in the third quarter when he picked up a technical foul.
"We really came out aggressive out of the gate," Nowitzki said. "We were pushing the ball and really getting good looks. Tonight was perfect. We had energy; defensively, I thought we were sharp."
Dampier, a much-maligned center who had been averaging just 4.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, had 16 points, 14 boards and two blocks despite sitting the entire fourth quarter. He had his way with Pistons All-Star center Ben Wallace, the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year.
"I tried to go out there tonight and focus on defense and focus on rebounding and let the offense take care of itself," Dampier said. "I've got to find ways to get more offensively and not worry about the rebounds. I know I can rebound."
"That's the kind of Dampier we need night in and night out," Mavericks swingman Josh Howard said. "When he plays like he was tonight, we can't be beat, I don't think."
Howard scored a season-high 26 points for the Mavericks, who shot a scorching 59 percent (45-of-76) from the field and had six players in double figures. They held a 58-32 advantage in points in the paint and the final margin was their largest lead.
Howard scored five points as Dallas raced to a 15-4 lead. Detroit stabilized matters for a while before Dallas erupted again with a 21-2 burst fueled by seven points from Marquis Daniels and opened a 38-12 lead in the final minute of the opening period.
"We knew they were going come out strong knowing we were coming of the back-to-back," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "We knew they would come out strong, but we didn't know they'd hit all those shots in a row. They got it going, everything they threw up went in."
It was 58-37 at halftime and baskets by Nowitzki and Dampier opened the third period and rebuilt the lead to 25 points. The Pistons closed to 70-52 with 6:33 to go, but Nowitzki scored seven points and Howard eight as the Mavericks opened a 90-62 lead entering the final period, which was all garbage time.
Daniels scored 15 points, Devin Harris added 14 and Jason Terry 12 for Dallas. The trio of guards ran wild and made Detroit - perhaps the best defensive team in the NBA - look very slow.
"It looked like on the defensive side we expected help," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said. "When people are going at you one-on-one, you've got to take that person. You can't just back down. You've got to go back at them."
Richard Hamilton scored 18 points for the Pistons, who shot 41 percent (33-of-80) and were beaten on the boards, 47-26.
"You're not going to go 82-0," Saunders said. "You just don't envision coming out and playing as bad as we played."