Mavs overcome big games by Stewart, Bey as Hardaway scores 42 and stars late
Chris Schwegler (NBAE via Getty Images)
Three quick observations from Thursday night’s 115-105 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Little Caesars Arena
ZESTY BEEF STEW – Isaiah Stewart’s rookie year has had a lot of wow moments, but maybe never so many packed into one half as Thursday’s first against Dallas – and that despite the fact Stewart, a 42 percent 3-point shooter entering the game, missed all three of his attempts from the arc. He made up for that in the second half, hitting two late triples, each to give the Pistons a lead. Stewart finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Stewart got to halftime with 12 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 15 minutes. In one sequence, Stewart scored on one end over Dallas 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and then blocked 7-foot-4 Kristaps Porzingis at the rim on the other. Stewart was mainly responsible for the Pistons hanging with Dallas. On a night they were missing Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph, Wayne Ellington, Dennis Smith Jr. and Rodney McGruder – Dallas was without Luke Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith – the Mavericks, fighting to stay out of the Western Conference’s play-in round, took a six-point halftime lead and stretched it to 10 in the third quarter. But the Pistons came back to take the lead with 10 minutes left on a Frank Jackson (20 points) 3-pointer and went ahead by a point when Stewart – who also blocked a shot by 7-foot-5 ex-Piston Boban Marjanovic – tripled with 3:46 to play. Ex-Michigan star Tim Hardaway Jr. led Dallas with 42 points, going 10 of 10 at the foul line, which included six straight when he was fouled in the final few minutes on consecutive possessions while attempting 3-pointers. He then drained a triple with 1:05 to play – his sixth of the game in 10 attempts – to give Dallas a 109-105 lead. Hardaway scored 17 in the fourth quarter.
BEY WATCH – The Dallas Mavericks took Josh Green with the 18th pick last November, leaving the Pistons to take Saddiq Bey at 19 with a pick they acquired from the Clippers in the trade for Luke Kennard. Green, who spent one season at Arizona, is an athletic wing who appeared in his 31st game of the season against the Pistons and has averaged 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10 minutes a game. Green had four points, two rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes for Dallas in its win Thursday. Perhaps Bey, 1½ years older than the 20-year-old Green, had the fact Dallas bypassed him in the back of his mind as he had a terrific all-around game. He led them back from a 10-point deficit midway through the third quarter and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Bey came into the game trailing No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards of Minnesota in 3-pointers among NBA rookies with 139 to Edwards’ 142 and nobody else even close. The Pistons other first-round rookie, Killian Hayes, picked up assists on the first three baskets of the night and finished with 11, topping his previous high by two.
SEKOU STEPS – Sekou Doumbouya hasn’t had a two-week stretch this season to match his torrid NBA start last January, slowed by a pair of stints in NBA concussion protocol and other nagging injuries in year two. But he’s lately shown subtle signs of growth and Dwane Casey said before the game that he expected Doumbouya to get longer stretches of playing time over the season’s final 10 games. He wound up playing 29 minutes, the eighth time this season he’s topped 20 minutes in a game. He gave the Pistons a 94-92 lead midway through the fourth quarter with a tough drive and finish in a 14-point outing. His layup, again driving through traffic, with 2:25 to play tied the game at 104. Doumbouya came into the game shooting just 24.4 percent from the 3-point arc and struggled from there again, going 1 of 5. Casey said that Doumbouya came into camp “lean and mean” but his conditioning has been difficult to maintain with the bouts of inactivity caused by the concussion protocol stints and other injuries.