Dallas’ 43-point second quarter overwhelms Pistons in a dud in Dallas

Anthony Tolliver drew the start and scored 18 points to lead the Pistons in their loss at Dallas.
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

DALLAS – The Pistons gave up 43 points in the second quarter, their worst defensive quarter of the season. They scored 13 points in the third quarter, their worst offensive quarter of the season. There’s not a whole lot more you need to know about the lump of coal they found in their Christmas stocking deep in the heart o’ Texas.

“To me, it was as simple as one team played a lot harder on the defensive end and with a lot more quickness and energy on the offensive end,” Stan Van Gundy said after the Pistons had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 110-93 dud in Dallas. “That told the whole story of the game.”

The Pistons actually held a 23-14 lead in the first quarter against a team with the worst record in the Western Conference at 8-23. And they held a 49-48 lead with three minutes left in the first half. But the Mavs closed their 43-point second quarter with a 17-4 kick to seize the game by the throat.

And whatever chance the Pistons had to get back in it went up in smoke when their offense was just as abysmal in the third quarter as their defense was absent in the second.

No doubt Van Gundy alerted the Pistons to the fact Dallas hit 15 of 19 shots in the second quarter and 5 of 7 from the 3-point arc in rolling to its highest-scoring quarter of the season. And no doubt the Pistons came out of the locker room intent on tightening the screws at that end.

And they did. Seven straight Dallas empty possessions started the third quarter. That’s the kind of dominant stretch that should lead to easy offense and pressure a team into cracking at their defensive end.

But the Pistons got precious little out of their possessions. One Andre Drummond tip-in, one Drummond lob dunk and four free throws, three from Anthony Tolliver when fouled on a triple try and one from Tobias Harris when Mavs rookie guard Dennis Smith was T’d up.

“Terrible,” Van Gundy said of that stretch of offense. “We didn’t play with good offensive energy, either. Their defensive pressure flattened us out.”

“It was very unfortunate,” Reggie Jackson said. “Usually when you put pressure on people, it takes effort on both ends or it takes success on both ends. We got the stops when we were a little bit down and, unfortunately, we couldn’t put pressure on them and try to put them in a situation where they panicked. We just didn’t get some shots to fall. Unfortunate loss tonight.”

Here were the Pistons possessions to open the third quarter: Tobias Harris missed a jump shot, Drummond tipped it in; Harris committed a turnover; Harris missed a 3-pointer; Drummond scored on a lob from Reggie Bullock; Harris hit the technical free throw followed by Jackson missing a driving, contested reverse layup; Jackson missed a 3-pointer; Jackson missed a transition 3-pointer; Tolliver made three free throws; Harris missed a runner.

And then Drummond picked up his fourth foul, setting a moving screen, and things really unraveled. The foul came with seven minutes left in the quarter with the Pistons trailing by six points despite the Mavs having scored just two points in five minutes. The Pistons would score only five points over the final seven minutes of the quarter with Drummond on the bench.

“A couple of shots didn’t go our way and then they made some shots, too, so that kind of discouraged us,” Harris said. “We just weren’t able to get the ball movement we’re used to. That’s something we’ve got to all get better at, including myself.”

Harris liked his matchup with German rookie Maxi Kleber and tried to attack him, but probably was too eager to carry the offense. He wound up shooting 4 of 16. Jackson was 3 of 9. The Pistons need quality outings from Drummond, Harris and Jackson while Avery Bradley – out at least a week, probably longer – is idled and they combined for 27 points and required 32 shots to get there against Dallas.

“I think we have some guys not playing well who are, quote, trying to get themselves going instead of just playing basketball,” Van Gundy said. “I thought that led to some bad offense, also.”

Harris, Van Gundy said, “took bad shots – period.” Harris agreed, more or less.

“I’m going to be aggressive. Could’ve done a better job evaluating, taking some not-as-rushed looks,” he said. “I had some open shots, threes that didn’t fall that I normally make. So I’ll look at the looks and go from there.”

Tolliver, getting the start in Bradley’s absence over Luke Kennard as Van Gundy opted for a better matchup with Dallas’ size, led the Pistons with 18 on just seven shots, hitting 4 of 6 from three. But he wasn’t any cheerier than his teammates.

“They just played harder than we did,” he said. “They got into us from the very beginning. Even though we were hitting shots early and made it a game, we never developed a sense of urgency on the defensive end and we started missing shots and they kept making shots. We just didn’t play our brand of basketball tonight.”

FAST BREAKDOWN

Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 110-93 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center

1-DUD IN DALLAS – If the Pistons had a shot to win this one, it came out of the chute after halftime. Dallas blistered them for 43 points in the second quarter, hitting 15 of 20 shots and 5 of 7 from the 3-point arc, to lead by 12. The Mavs went without a point on their first seven possessions of the third quarter, but the Pistons only whittled the lead in half. And when Dallas got back-to-back triples from Wes Matthews and Yogi Ferrell, the deficit was right back to 12. The Mavs stretched the run to 11-0 to go up by 17 and led by 23 after three quarters. After yielding 43 in the second quarter, the Pistons scored only 13 in the third. The Pistons came into the game 3-0 at Dallas under Stan Van Gundy after having lost their previous six games at American Airlines Center under five different coaches around the 2011-12 lockout season, when the Pistons didn’t play at Dallas, and it looked like their recent trend might continue when they built a 23-14 lead late in the first quarter. But an 11-0 Dallas run late in the second quarter wiped out the last lead the Pistons had, 49-48, and the rout was on.

2-TOLLIVER TIME – Stan Van Gundy juggled his starting lineup, putting Anthony Tolliver in and removing Luke Kennard, motivated by nothing beyond a desire to create a more favorable matchup with Dallas going big. So Reggie Bullock opened at shooting guard – Avery Bradley’s spot opened up while he recovers from a hip/pelvic injury– against Wes Matthews, Tobias Harris at small forward against Harrison Barnes and Tolliver at power forward against Dirk Nowitzki. Van Gundy had to be nimble with his substitutions, though, because Rick Carlisle mixes and matches as liberally as any coach. The Mavs usually get Nowitzki out of the game quickly to bring him back with a second unit that often features three point guards – Devin Harris, Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea. It was that unit that got the Mavs off and running in their decisive second quarter with Barea hurting the Pistons with nine points and four assists in 9:10 of first-half playing time. Tolliver, who makes his off-season home in nearby Frisco, wound up leading the Pistons with 18 points, hitting 4 of 6 from the 3-point arc.

3-BEYOND THE RECORD – The adage that it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them applied to the Pistons with regard to the Mavericks. While Dallas came into the game with the worst record in the Western Conference at 8-23, the Mavs have been a formidable home team for the past month, going 6-3 with dominant wins over Milwaukee (32 points), Oklahoma City (16), the Clippers (26), Denver (17) and San Antonio (six) before routing the Pistons and they’ve played stifling defense. Their defense got better as this one unfolded, the Pistons being held to 10 points in the first nine minutes of the third quarter when it looked like they might have a chance to get back in the game. Tobias Harris liked his matchup against German rookie Maxi Kleber to start the game and tried to attack him, but didn’t always wind up with favorable shots and finished just 4 of 16 from the field – and 0 of 4 from the 3-point arc – for 10 points. Reggie Jackson was 3 of 9 for six points.

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