Well, this game was as advertised. You had two of the slowest teams in terms of pace in the league, the second-ranked defense in the league with Detroit and the Mavs mostly eye-bleeding offense. Of course it was going to get ugly.
Detroit loves ugly games and they pretty much thrive on them as they prevented the Mavs from starting a win-streak with a 95-85 win Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.
The Pistons walloped the Mavs on the boards and used their length to bother the Mavs already meager offense in the fourth quarter. The Mavs put up a good fight all night and actually looked in control of the game in the third quarter when they had a 64-52 lead.
From there, Detroit kept chipping away at Dallas’ small bench and then when the starters came back they couldn’t right the ship. Dallas is still last in the West with a 6-19 record.
Bogut was sorely missed tonight
Andrew Bogut is by far the Mavs best rebounder and one of the best rebounders in the league and he was needed tonight. Salah Mejri had some moments, but his rail-thin frame allowed him to get pushed out of the paint. Dwight Powell, as we’ve been over before, is not a forceful paint player.
Bogut’s absence has allowed the Mavs to run a faster, more fluid offense with Powell and Mejri being more effective rim-divers but Bogut’s interior defense and boarding was never more missed than tonight. Detroit just pounded the Mavs all night and won the rebounding battle 50-30. They also scored 40 of their 95 points in the paint. Andre Drummond had more rebounds than the Mavs two centers combined (17 for Drummond, eight for Mejri, one for Powell. Yes. One rebound) and Drummond didn’t even play the final five minutes of the game since the Mavs were ready to send him to the free throw line.
Detroit’s length all over the court mucked up the Mavs flow
The Mavs enjoyed a nice offensive spurt the last couple of games, thanks to more space due to Powell and Mejri’s rim-running opening things up for the Mavs shooters and drivers. The Pistons had a counter to that and that’s play a bunch of long dudes with big wingspans.
Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris are all tall and long perimeter guys and their length allows them to switch ball screens freely and bother shooters on closeouts. The Mavs just love to post Barnes on smaller guards after they switch a Barnes pick and roll, but even Jackson has a freakish wingspan (7’0) so he was long enough to get into Barnes airspace. Dallas pinged the ball around the three-point line and every time a Mavs caught the ball on the wing it felt like a hand was right in their face. It’s one of the reasons Detroit has such a great defense this year. The Mavs shot 41 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three. Barnes was 9-of-18 from the floor but couldn’t really impose his will down the stretch when the Mavs were floundering due to the Pistons length countering most of his offensive arsenal.
Boy, the Mavs desperately could have used J.J. Barea tonight.
The Mavs are feisty
Detroit shot 50 percent from the floor, scored 40 in the paint, out-rebounded the Mavs by 20 and held Harrison Barnes to under 20 points. They should have won this game by 15+ but the Mavs are pesky and keep finding ways to keep themselves in games they have no business being in.
A lot of it is due to a surprisingly feisty defense that while can get exposed in the half-court, also gets lots of hands on balls. Dallas got 13 steals tonight, with Detroit turning it over 19 times. Drummond isn’t an offensive powerhouse, but Dallas frustrated him with a 1-of-3 shooting night and only sending him to the line twice. This Dallas team isn’t good and is weird, but they fight pretty hard. I guess that’s all you can ask for from a team that will likely get a top-10 pick in a couple months.