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3 things as the Mavericks outlast the Pistons, 127-117

The Mavericks started slow, but the Pistons were just bad enough for it to not come back to bite them.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Detroit Pistons 127-117. It was another typical lackluster start for the Mavericks as the Pistons jumped out to a quick lead, led by Jerami Grant’s 15 first-quarter points, and shot 64 percent. Luka Doncic’s 11 first-quarter points kept the Mavericks within reach, but the Pistons led 36-33 after one.

However, Dallas clamped down in the second quarter throwing a zone out which stifled the Pistons to a degree. Their accuracy sunk connecting on only 43 percent of their attempts compared to the Mavericks' 58 percent. Led by Jalen Brunson’s strong quarter, the Mavericks finally found a rhythm to take a 67-58 lead into the half.

Dallas deployed the zone to start the second half, but Detroit cracked some holes in the defensive armor cutting the lead to four points midway through the third. The Mavericks absorbed the blow to extend the lead by one and hold a 100-90 lead heading into the fourth.

The Mavericks looked like they’d put the Pistons away early in the fourth, but Detroit hung around forcing the Mavericks to play run their horses all the way up until the final buzzer. The Pistons threatened the lead, trimming it to single digits on a few occasions, but the Mavericks held on behind Doncic’s 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Here are some more observations from the game:

Jalen Brunson stepped up

When Rick Carlisle left the door open for a lineup change, a rational thought would have been Brunson inserted into the starting lineup. His score first style meshes with Doncic, and the Mavericks desperately need a scoring jolt with the starters.

Though that thought didn’t materialize, Brunson still put his imprint on the game before the first half even ended. Heading into the break, Brunson had 18 points (8-of-9 shooting) and scored nine straight points to give the Mavericks a cushion in the second quarter after a sluggish start. He cooled off in the second half, but not before the damage was done. Dallas looked embarrassingly bad before Brunson steadied the ship. He finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and delivered the game-sealing play with about a minute to go. With the Pistons forcing the ball out of Doncic’s hands, Brunson was able to attack and find the open man for an and-one dunk. It was indicative of Brunson’s entire night.

Jerami Grant’s foul trouble sunk the Pistons

Taking advantage of Dwight Powell in the starting lineup, Jerami Grant burst out of the gates with 15 first-quarter points. Dallas had no answer, and the Pistons controlled the first 12 minutes with Grant having his way. In the second quarter, he picked up his third foul and sat for the majority, so Dallas took advantage. After attempting eight shots in the first quarter, Grant failed to get a shot off in both the second and third quarters.

The Pistons collapsed with Grant off the floor, and fortunately, the Mavericks did what they were supposed to do. By the time Grant found his rhythm again, the hill was too tall to climb. We won’t think about the alternate universe where Grant avoids picking up his third foul in the second.

Kristaps Porzingis was perplexing

His stats aren’t horrible. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-of-13 and made two of his five triples. But he felt invisible and fouled out picking up his fifth foul making contact with Josh Jackson on a jump shot. His highlight came when he jumped the passing lane, stole the ball, and slammed it home on the break. But too many times he felt like a bystander, and his defensive presence was notably lacking. The Pistons didn’t face much resistance at the rim, and that’s partly why the Mavericks played so much zone. Dallas needs Porzingis to perform at the defensive end to be a threat, so hopefully, he returns to form soon.

Dallas returns to action Thursday night against the Lakers with a chance to make ground in the standings.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.