While it felt like tough going for a while there, the Mavs continued their domination over the East. The woeful Pistons put up a decent fight, trying to beat their third Western Conference team in four games, but they simply couldn't hang with the Mavs' offense tonight.
The Mavs started the first off with another showing of their trademarked 3-point defense, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Singler both drained open 3s in the first two Pistons possessions. Singler would hit a couple more in the first. To make things worse, Tyson Chandler was uncharacteristically bad at defending Andre Drummond early. Drummond had two wide-open alley oop dunks early and seem to bully up Tyson on the boards as well.
Fortunately Monta was aggressive on the other end. He was driving often and early, and it really paid off for the Mavs. Seemingly every other possession saw Monta driving into the paint, which led to a made layup, an easy assist, or a foul nearly every time. Parsons also had some good moments to keep the Mavs in it, notably hitting a pretty stop & shoot runner and later drawing the and-1 on a layup contested by the always awkward Singler. Parsons was aggressive early, probably because he didn't want to make flamingos look bad in front of Andre Drummond.
The Mavs finally started playing something resembling defense late in the quarter, going on a 9-0 run to gain a 32-30 lead. Then no one scored again for the last minute and a half of the quarter.
Several Mavs seemed to have some issues with the ball tonight, as Harris, Parsons, and Dirk all had awkward moments in the first half where they just sort of fumbled the ball. Fortunately each recovered, but it was weird, right? On one such fumble, Dirk very awkwardly chased down the ball and saved it from a backcourt violation, which led to an open Barea drilling a three. It was pretty cool.
The Mavs also got a lot of transition opportunities in this game, and generally made the most of them, though Andre Drummond did break up a couple of seemingly easy dunks. Meanwhile Drummond continued his one man assault on the basket in the second quarter, racking up 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
The third quarter felt similar to the first half, but with more weird fouls. Josh Smith had a penchant for drawing weird fouls tonight, taking himself out of the game by drawing his 4th foul early in the third. As was the theme for the night, neither team was able to build a lead of more than five points or so. Drummond kept attacking the rim (though he did miss a few seemingly easy alley oops). Parsons kept doing good things.
Seriously though, Chandler Parsons was really good tonight. He hit a couple of threes, but I was most impressed with him when driving to the basket. He drew a few good fouls tonight, had a couple of dishes, and was just generally a good basketball player while driving the paint tonight. Also, it would appear that he is a near-perfect shoot if he is just allowed to hang in the air for a second or two before letting go of the ball. Parsons finished the night with a game-high 32 points, along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
Parsons wasn't the only one who went off in the third. Monta really got hot, hitting open midrange jumpers all over the court, almost all of them in rhythm. Between the two of them, the Mavs finally started to pull away, building a double-digit lead just as the third quarter came to a close.
Dallas continued to build momentum into the fourth, as Dirk secured his double-double and Devin continued to show off his 3-point shooting prowess. One particularly cool play was a hockey assist from Barea to Dirk to Wright for a beautiful "one touch" layup. About halfway through the fourth, it looked like the Mavs would probably coast to a surprisingly easy win. Unfortunately, the Mavs' 17-point lead was narrowed to 8 with 4 minutes left, largely through Andre Drummond continuing to be awesome. Drummond scored 19 points tonight, while grabbing 24 rebounds.
All told, the Pistons went on a 10-1 run to narrow the lead to 6 before fouling Dirk to put the Mavs in the bonus. The Mavs then went into a zone on defense that was fairly ineffective. Fortunately the offense broke out of a mini-slump, so the Mavs were able to bring the lead back up to 11. Dirk, in particular helped staunch the bleeding, hitting free throws, one-legged fadeaways, and absolutely drilling a catch-and-shoot three-pointer.
With the lead back in double-digits with under two minutes left, the Pistons tried to use a full-court press to throw the Mavs off, but it wasn't enough. Dallas won by a final score of 117-104 and move to 18-8.
All-in-all, this was a fairly balanced quality game for the Mavs, as all four "stars" contributed tonight. Chandler Parsons's performance was spectacular, as I mentioned. Dirk finished with a double-double, and Tyson was one rebound short of one as well. Monta was the team's second-leading scorer with 25 while tossing 8 assists.