Recap: Mavs hold off Pistons to begin road trip
Recap: Mavericks 102, Pistons 99
Mavs hold off Pistons to begin road trip
AUBURN HILLS, MI — Throughout the up-and-down 2012-13 NBA season, the Dallas Mavericks have dealt with their fair share of adversity.
Friday night, with the Mavericks looking to build off Wednesday’s 112-108 home win over Houston while beginning their four-game road trip against the Detroit Pistons, the Dallas team was once again dealt a blow when it was announced shortly before the opening tipoff that four-time All-Star Shawn Marion would be out and listed as day-to-day after suffering a left calf contusion late in the win against the Rockets.
The Mavs then stepped onto the hardwood at The Palace of Auburn Hills hoping to seize a win without their defensive catalyst. And even without one of their veteran leaders, the Mavericks (28-33) managed to find a way to battle through adversity once again, scratching and clawing their way to a 102-99 win to begin their road trip.
“It was the kind of game we knew it was going to be,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the win. “We knew it was going to be tough. … We had a lot of guys contribute. We took up for the loss of Marion tonight well I thought all things considered, and we’ve got to move on to the next one. We’ve got to do some things better and we’ve got to keep doing some of the things well we did well.”
“Matrix [Marion] was out tonight and he is obviously a big part of what we’re doing at both ends of the floor,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added. “And so we had to get this one done without him. At least we were good enough down the stretch to gut one out.”
Forced to use his 20th different starting lineup of the season due to the absence of Marion, Carlisle opted to reinsert rookie forward Jae Crowder into the starting unit for the first time since Dec. 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers, along with center Chris Kaman over big man Brandan Wright. Carlisle also stuck with 37-year-old point guard Mike James in the first unit for the second straight game, pairing the three with Nowitzki and leading scorer O.J. Mayo.
But, with his team in an early dogfight, Carlisle wouldn’t wait long to go to his bench while getting assistance from the backup trio of Wright, sixth man Vince Carter and big man Elton Brand. Mayo’s eight points in the opening quarter then took the Mavs into the second stanza up 22-17.
Mayo would continue to stroke the hot hand in the second quarter, catching fire from behind the 3-point arc while moving into double figures. Meanwhile, Wright would give the Mavs interior scoring off the bench while Nowitzki came to life to help the visitors surge ahead by as much as 10.
The Mavs then went into the half up 50-42.
Led by Mayo’s 14 points on 5 of 8 from the floor, the Mavs outshot the Pistons (23-41) through two quarters, 52.5 percent to 43.6 percent. The Pistons, meanwhile, held a 20-19 rebounding edge and 22-18 advantage in points in the paint at the midway mark to remain in the game.
Mayo’s fifth 3-pointer of the game then gave the Mavericks a little breathing room before an and-one score by point guard Darren Collison with 3.9 seconds left in the period took the Mavs into the fourth with a 76-71 edge.
Lighting the net on fire from 3-point range to open the fourth, the Mavs quickly assumed a double-digit lead with a pair of triples for both James and Carter.
“That was a huge stretch obviously, because they went on their run to cut the lead down real short and then the crowd started to get into it. And so we were able to make plays at the end of the game,” James foreshadowed. “That lead kept us afloat, especially when we started missing shots during that stretch and they started hitting big shots. We’ve just got to learn from our mistakes tonight and learn when we get a big lead like that how to continue moving forward.”
The lead would reach as much as 15 before Charlie Villanueva and Khris Middleton did their best to keep the Pistons within an arm’s reach, trimming the Mavs’ lead to 95-91 on Middleton’s corner 3 and forcing a Dallas timeout with 4:02 left to play.
The Pistons weren’t done, however, climbing within one on Villanueva's 3 from the wing before Mayo extended the lead to two with a split 1-of-2 trip to the foul line as 2:45 remained on the game clock.
“For some reason every time we have a lead in the fourth quarter we find a way to give it away,” Nowitzki admitted. “It’s amazing. We always give up a nine or 10-point run it feels like in a minute or two. It’s amazing, but we’re doing it. But at least we found a way to get a couple of big stops.”
Nowitzki then stepped in, raining in back-to-back jumpers to regain the lead after Middleton put the Pistons up one with a corner 3. The Dallas defense took it from there, scrambling to force a shot-clock violation with 36.2 seconds left. But the Mavs would fail to cash in after a miss by Nowitzki, leading to a timeout by Detroit with 12.9 seconds remaining.
Villanueva’s tip-in on a miss by Jose Calderon then made it just a one-point game yet again, leading to a timeout by Carlisle with 6.0 ticks left to hold on. Collison’s perfect pair at the free throw line then extended to the lead to three with 3.8 seconds left to set the Dallas defense up. And finally, Villanueva’s wide-open miss from the corner secured the win for the Mavs while sending the Pistons off their own floor with a fifth straight home loss.
“You know, we made a couple of mistakes. The last play we made a mistake on. We blew that coverage, but we got lucky. And, you know, if you do enough good things during the course of the game, the basketball gods sometimes are kind to you in that situation,” a relieved Carlisle concluded.
“I thought we dodged a bullet there with Villanueva twice,” Nowitzki added. “He came in hot shooting the ball, and we gave him two looks out of the corner and the second one was wide open. So we got a little lucky there at the end to walk out of here with a win.”
Leading seven Mavs in double figures was Mayo, who scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting while hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“Just trying to be locked in on the objective and execute as hard as I possibly can,” a modest Mayo said.
He added: “We’re just trying to build a foundation on what it’s supposed to be like. It’s a lot of tradition here and we want to make a big push.”
Wright added 14 points and James and Nowitzki pitched in 12 points each, while Collison finished with 11 points and Carter registered 10 points off the bench.
“Balance is one of our main keys. We know that, and we had an eighth guy with nine points. So, you know, the balance was a really positive sign from this game, and so we’ve got to take the good here and build on it and take the mistakes and try to reduce them,” Carlisle said.
Knight led five Pistons in double figures with 21 points on 9 of 17 from the floor, but the Mavs’ 52.6 percent shooting bettered the Pistons’ 40.6 percent at the other end of the floor. The Mavs also overcame Detroit’s 52-41 rebounding advantage, 26-6 separation in second-chance points and 48-32 margin in points in the paint, dishing out 29 assists to just 12 turnovers and connecting on 11 of 22 from behind the 3-point arc.
“A lot of good things,” Carlisle said while summing up the night. “We didn’t do a good job when they made their run in the fourth, but we held them off and got the win, and that’s a positive.”
“This was a great job of us keeping our composure with them making a [heck] of a run, but a win is a win,” Carter added. “It’s not about right now how pretty or how ugly they may be as long as we’re getting victories.”
The Mavs will now continue their road trip in Minnesota, taking on the Timberwolves on Sunday. The Timberwolves lead the season series 2-1. The game will air locally Sunday at 6 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
“This team, we’ll take a win like that in November, in March and in April,” Nowitzki concluded. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter, especially on the road. We’ve been losing road games all year long. We don’t have a great record on the road, so this is definitely one we’ll take. But we’ve got to be better in Minnesota and we’ll go from there.”
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