Despite Dirk Nowitzki's Shooting, Mavericks Lose to Pistons, 103-89

Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 32 points on 10-17 shooting from the field (4-7 from the three-point line) and despite the heroic effort, Nowitzki did not have enough help from his teammates on both ends of the floor as the Detroit Pistons scored at will and won the game, 103-89.  The Dallas Mavericks were without Tyson Chandler for the second straight game due to illness and this was a game that they truly could have used him.  This is the first time the Mavericks have lost six games in a row since February/March of 2000.  Dallas lost five of their last six games by double digits.  The Mavericks went 0-4 on their road-trip that took them to Indiana, San Antonio, Memphis and Detroit.

Dallas had won five straight against Detroit before today's game.  With the loss, the Mavericks were unable to sweep the Pistons for the third consecutive year.  Now, Detroit has won two of their last nine match-ups against Dallas.  Dating back to 1999-2000, the Mavericks are now 16-of-24 against Detroit.

Detroit is now on a three game winning streak.  Detroit hasn't won three in a row since April 6-9 and took advantage of the Mavericks' struggling defense.  Coming in to today's game, Dallas had given up an average of 101.6 points during its skid after previously allowing 93.2 per game.

Both teams struggled on the offensive end of the floor to start the Holiday game.  For the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki was the only player to score in the first three minutes of the game and that was due to free-throw attempts.  The first Mavericks basket came by Jason Terry at the 8:48 mark of the quarter to make the scored 6-4 in favor of the Pistons.  Nowitzki and Terry scored all of the Maverick points at the halfway point of the quarter (11 points, 7 for Nowitzki and 4 for Terry).  Brendan Haywood was the first Maverick outside of Terry and Nowitzki to score a basket.  Both teams were swarming on defense and one highlight was when Terry was trapped having to guard Greg Monroe.  Terry fronted the big man on the block and he was able to steal the entry pass which led to a Haywood bucket.  It was a low-scoring quarter as the Pistons took a 21-18 lead over the Mavericks. 

Nowitzki, Terry and Haywood remained the lone Mavericks to score in the quarter and Haywood chipped in a steal and 3 rebounds, all offensive rebounds.  Nowitzki, Terry and Haywood were 7-13 from the field, the rest were 0-8.  Jason Kidd had 6 assists in the opening quarter. 

Ian Mahinmi entered the game in the second quarter gave the Mavericks their first bucket of the quarter.  Showing the low-scoring trend, the put-back basket didn't come until the 9:56 mark of the quarter.  Unfortunately for the back-up center, Mahinmi got three quick fouls which led to his return to the bench and Alexis Ajinca came in to the game.  Dallas directly responded to an 8-1 Detroit run with a 8-1 run of their own to get the game tied at 26.  The Mavericks continued stringing together consecutive baskets as they went just over two minutes between made baskets.  Taking advantage of the situation, the Pistons used that stretch to execute and 11-0 run over a three-minute stretch of the quarter to take an 39-28 lead.  Nowitzki scored 7 straight points and he led a 9-2 Mavericks run allowed them to put the score at 41-37 at halftime.

Nowitzki went 4-7 from the field with 18 first half points while the rest of the team had 19 points on 9-28 shooting from the field.  Nowitzki scored 9 points in the first quarter, 9 points in the second quarter.  His 18 points led all players in the first half.

Continuing the trend from the first half, it took just under two minutes to get their first basket of the half (a Jason Terry jumper).  The Pistons started the half on a 6-2 run to give them a 10-point lead at 49-39.  Jason Terry drove in to the lane and hit a tough basket and got fouled which led to a three-point play to stop the bleeding.  The problem was they had to trade baskets with Detroit and really could not chip into the lead the Pistons had built over the course of the game.  The Mavericks defense started to slip and that allowed the Pistons made baskets on eleven consecutive trips down the floor.  With that stretch, the Pistons built their a 16-point at 75-59.  The Mavericks had a big hole to get out of as they trailed, 75-62, going into the final quarter.

Nowitzki did all he could in the quarter to keep the Mavericks alive.  He went 3-6 from the field (2-4 from beyond the arch) and scored 8 points.  The Pistons were scorching hot in the quarter as they went 16-22 from the field.  Brian Cardinal chipped in with back-to-back three-point makes for the Mavericks to help them stay within reach.

DeShawn Stevenson hit an open three-point basket to start the quarter and get the Mavericks within 10 points.  Going from the third quarter, the Mavericks had three consecutive three-point baskets.  The three-ball was doing damage, but the Mavericks continued struggling on the defensive end as they couldn't slow down the Pistons.  This was a game where Chandler was truly missed as he could help patrol on defense.  The red-hot Pistons continued hitting a barrage of three-point shots and built their biggest lead of the game at 95-75.  At one point, Detroit was shooting 75% from the field in the second half.    Dirk Nowitzki returned from the bench with under 9 minutes to go and continued his marksmanship from the field with his patented one-foot fade-away jumper.  The offense got rolling for the Dallas but again, their defense really couldn't find a consistent way to slow down Detroit.

The Pistons shot 56% from the field during the game while the Mavericks shot 47%.

The Mavericks are looking to regain their mojo and they will have a tough team to find it against.  The Dallas Mavericks will have Tuesday to lick their wounds before going up against the the two-time defending NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.

Notes:

With Nowitzki and Terry rolling in Detroit, that helped the starters get out of a nasty funk.  The Mavericks starters (Kidd, Stevenson, Marion, Ajinca and Chandler) combined for just 34 points in the 101-89 loss to the Spurs on 11/14.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the fewest points recorded by the Mavericks starting five since 11/26/03, when the Dallas starters scored just 30 in a 121-90 loss to Phoenix.  The Mavericks starters (Kidd, Stevenson, Marion, Nowitzki and Haywood) recorded even less points in the very next game at Memphis (1/15), combining for just 26 in the 89-70 loss to the Grizzlies.

Nowitzki's 32 points led all scorers.  In the game against Memphis, Nowitzki scored seven points in his return from injury Saturday night which ended a string of 89 consecutive games (including playoffs) in which he scored in double figures.  He didn't finish the previous where he was held below double digits in scoring, due to teeth being embedded in Nowitzki's elbow.  It was the game against the Houston Rockets on December 18, 2009 where Nowitzki drove to the lane and his elbow collided with Carl Landry's mouth.  Nowitzki left the game with 5 points in only 10 minutes of action. 

Nowitzki hasn't gone consecutive games played scoring in single figures since 2003.  He exited during the November 26 game at Phoenix with a sprained ankle.  He played 7 minutes and was scoreless.  The forward returned to action on December 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers and scored only 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes.

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