Recap: Mayo, Brand lift Mavs to W in Fisher's debut
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' victory over Detroit on Saturday, as O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand lifted the team to a W in Derek Fisher's debut.
Recap: Pistons 77 at Mavericks 92
Mayo, Brand lift Mavs to W in Fisher's debut
First there was center Eddy Curry, who played the first two games of the 2012-13 season for the Dallas Mavericks before being cut loose to make room for big man Troy Murphy. And after Murphy was waived, too, on Thursday to clear the way for five-time NBA champion and 38-year-old veteran point guard Derek Fisher, a 12th different Maverick compared to last season’s squad made his debut Saturday night as the lowly Detroit Pistons came to town.
Still, with the Mavs slumping to a three-game losing streak before journeying out on the road for six of their next seven games, Saturday night’s showdown represented far more than Fisher’s debut; it would also be a great chance for the Mavs to get back in the win column as the organization hosted its eighth annual “Seats for Soldiers” night.
And despite Fisher going just 1-of-8 from the field in his debut, the Mavericks (8-9) would capture a much-needed victory on their own floor, downing the Pistons for a fifth straight time at home with a 92-77 win.
“I think overall my conditioning was pretty good,” Fisher said after seeing his first game action since Game 5 of the Finals. “I didn’t feel physically I couldn’t keep up, but basketball is a game of timing and rhythm, and obviously playing with a new team, understanding spots on the floor, where shots are gonna come from, understanding time and score, who you’re out there with, there’s a lot to think about and process. So, I won’t worry about how I’m looking individually, it’s really about how can I help impact this team in a positive way. And if each night we come in here our team won and the other team loss, I could care less about how I looked.”
With just one practice under his belt after joining the team, Fisher immediately joined the starting lineup at the lead guard spot, alongside leading scorer O.J. Mayo in the backcourt, rookie forward Jae Crowder, four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and center Chris Kaman.
It would be Kaman getting the Mavericks off to a quick start, however, scoring the team’s first six points of the night with an array of moves inside on the offensive end. Fisher then broke into the scoring with a transition hoop after a goaltending call on Kyle Singler. But, after two quick fouls on Mayo and Kaman, in addition to two technical foul calls on Mayo and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle for arguing with officiating, the home team faced a 27-24 deficit after the opening period.
Despite poor shooting to start the game, the Mavs stuck around with aggressive work on the offensive glass. Still, the Pistons (5-13) would keep the upper hand on the scoreboard as the second stanza got underway, while Kaman was forced to sit with a third foul following a charge call.
And although point guard Darren Collison returned from a one-game absence with a sprained right middle finger to connect on a much-needed 3-pointer from the corner before Mayo’s and-one finger roll capped a 9-0 Dallas run after falling behind by 11, the Mavs still looked up to a 48-42 deficit at the halftime intermission.
Led by Brandon Knight’s 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting through the first 24 minutes of action, the Pistons outshot the Mavs to the midway mark, 40 percent to 36.7 percent. Detroit also owned a 28-25 rebounding margin to overcome Dallas’ 30-22 advantage in points in the paint and 10-4 separation in second-chance points.
“We struggled in the first half with shotmaking, but we had a lot of good looks, so we felt we just had to stay the course and do a better job rebounding,” Carlisle explained. “We started out well, hit a lull in the second quarter and then picked it way up in the second half. That’s what got us the win; the ability to get stops and then get out in transition, because they were doing a good job of locking up O.J. in the half-court stuff.”
After three sub-par performances, Mayo began to assert himself in the third quarter while slicing into the Mavs’ disadvantage with his team’s first 11 points in the period. And after scoring 16 points in a 17-4 run to go in front, Mayo handed the scoring duties over to eight-time All-Star Vince Carter during an 8-0 spurt, lifting the Mavs to a 67-59 advantage entering the fourth.
“I just came out aggressive,” Mayo said of his second-half scoring outburst. “I passed up some open shots in the second quarter and I came in the locker room and everybody said, ‘Hey, man, just play your game.’ So, I just kept shooting and tried to be aggressive.”
“We just tried to keep the momentum and wear them down,” Carter added. “I think O.J. got it started, and once he sat on the bench, I just tried to keep it going. You know, our team is up and down right now, but this is something that we need. … We stuck together and pulled it out.”
After giving his team the momentum in the third period, Mayo differed to the big men duo of veteran Elton Brand and rookie Bernard James as the final 12 minutes began to tick off the clock. At the same time, Carter continued to fire away from long range, connecting on a 3 from the wing to put the Mavs up 80-61 with 8:09 remaining.
The Mavericks wouldn’t look back the rest of the way as Mayo put the finishing touches on the win.
Scoring 24 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, Mayo finished the night hitting 10-of-21 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3. Meanwhile, Brand collected a double-double with a 17-point, 12-rebound night, adding four blocks on the defensive end.
“This was a vintage game for him,” Carlisle said of Brand’s night. “For whatever reason, his shotmaking has been up and down. He got into the flow of the game. He got into it and he affected it greatly on both ends. He had blocks and he had rebounds in traffic. He was hitting shots and making passes. It was really a big-time effort when we really needed it most. His effort was enormous.”
“I always feel like if you get an opportunity then you’ve got to make the best out of it,” Brand added. “I got some minutes with Kaman in foul trouble, so it’s not really vintage, that’s just where I’m at right now. I feel like I can do that with the time every game and the opportunity.”
Carter added 12 points off the bench and Kaman pitched in 10 points in the first unit to give the Mavericks four scorers in double figures.
Knight led four Pistons in double figures with 20 points on 6-for-14 shooting, although the Mavs’ 40.9 percent shooting bettered Detroit’s 34.1 percent from the field. Dallas also made up for a 52-49 rebounding deficit by finishing the game with 17 points off Detroit’s 16 turnovers, in addition to a 50-34 points in the paint advantage and 35-13 separation in fast-break points.
The Mavs will now embark on a three-game road, beginning in Los Angeles against Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. CT.
“Obviously you want to go down there and play hard,” Mayo said while looking ahead to the road trip. “You know, they’re gonna be pretty hyped up, trying to throw lobs and get the crowd into it. But, if we play some solid defense, we’ll have a chance.”