AUBURN HILLS, Mich (NBA.com exclusive) -- Dirk Nowitzki barely made any noise for nearly three quarters. Ben Gordon stayed silent right through the final shot. Nowitzki scored six points in the last 2:04 of the third, then scored nine more in the final 5:45 to lift Dallas to a 95-90 victory over Detroit Sunday night at The Palace. Nowitzki's late surge allowed him to reach his scoring average of 25 points and gave his club a 7-3 start.
"He's such a great offensive player and he's such a great shooter that you know if he's getting the touches and he's in rhythm, he's going to make some shots," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "The same thing happened two nights ago in Minnesota when he got going in the third quarter. He worked hard to get open and made some good things happen."
While Dallas' best offensive player eventually found his touch, the Pistons' top threat endured the worst shooting night of his career. Gordon entered the game with a team-leading 24.3 ppg on 49 percent shooting. He shot 1-for-16, including an errant 3-point attempt with 1.9 seconds remaining that could have forced overtime.
Gordon, who was battling a cold, scored 29 points in the Pistons' 106-103 victory at Washington Saturday.
"They didn't feel good and they didn't look good, either," Gordon said of his jumpers. "You'll have games like that every once in awhile. I've just got to bounce back."
Jason Kidd made contact with Gordon on his last try but there was no bailout whistle.
"I think he was trying to foul to send me to the free throw line before I got up," Gordon said. "He kind of caught me on the way up, so I thought we were going to get some free throws."
With Tayshaun Prince (back) and Richard Hamilton (ankle) still sidelined with injuries, the Pistons couldn't afford an off-night from Gordon. The only reason they hung around was the Mavs' inability to handle the penetration moves of Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum.
Stuckey scored 28 points, even though he sat out the final 4:21 with cramps. Bynum, continuing his early push for Sixth Man of the Year, pumped in 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. The Pistons outscored the Mavs 46-36 in the paint with a combination of dribble drives and offensive rebounds (12, leading to 25 second-chance points). "They have a tough lineup with those three guards out there," Nowitzki said. "Gordon, Stuckey and Bynum, they're all great penetrators. We tried to keep them out of the lane but they're really good. They found ways to get in there."
Shawn Marion and Kidd combined for just 21 points and Dallas' bench shot 6-for-22. But the Mavs got a boost from rookie guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting and four assists in just 19 minutes. Beaubois and Jason Terry were also the guards defending Gordon when the Mavs were in man-to-man defense. "He's given us an element we haven't had on our team - speed, playmaking and defensively, he's getting deflections and making some things happen," Carlisle said. "He and Kidd are on a good wavelength right now."
The Mavs also played shorthanded. Josh Howard is out indefinitely with an ankle injury while starting center Erick Dampier was a late scratch because of an illness. Dampier was held for observation overnight at a Pontiac, Mich. hospital but is expected to rejoin the team after it plays at Milwaukee tonight.
Charlie Villanueva was primarily responsible for keeping Nowitzki under control until Nowitzki made two fade away jumpers over him late in the third. Nowitzki also stole an inbounds pass and fed Kris Humphries for a dunk in the closing seconds to make it 71-66.
After Bynum ignited an 8-0 Pistons spurt to tie the game at 78-all, Nowitzki made a 3-point play while drawing Villanueva's fifth foul. Pistons coach John Kuester felt Nowitzki should have been whistled for a charge.
With Dallas still up three and 1:33 left, Nowitzki popped open for a 20-footer, then hit a baseline fade away with Ben Wallace draped on him after two Bynum free throws.
Gordon still had a chance to redeem himself in the closing seconds.
"Are you kidding me? I wanted him to have the last shot," Kuester said. "I have the utmost respect and confidence in Ben Gordon."
They'll need Gordon to regain his confidence immediately. The Pistons embark on a daunting four-game West Coast trip which includes the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, Portland, Utah and Phoenix.
"It's going to be really challenging," Gordon said. "Every game out there, it's going to be important we bring our A game right from the start because those teams are all tough."