Rapid Fire: Mavs Drop Fourth Straight in Home Loss to Pistons
1. Coming into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Detroit Pistons, the Mavs were a beat-up bunch. Not physically, but mentally. Having dropped their last three games in equally agonizing yet totally different fashions, Dallas desperately needed to right the ship in order to hold their position in the Western Conference Playoff race. It would be the Pistons’ night, however, as Detroit would hand Dallas it’s fourth consecutive and third straight home loss, 102-96.
And the ship doesn't feel "righted.'' It feels "sinking.''
2. After Monday’s loss to the Clippers, the Mavs were giving up more points-per-game (102.7) than they were scoring (102.4). That can’t happen. The Mavs have struggled to put the ball in the hoop since March 1st, and no one inside the dismal post-game locker room seemed to have any legitimate answers to their problem. Wednesday night however, they came out with a different mentality, attacking the basket and getting high-percentage looks on the offensive end. That's the good ...
3. The first quarter was tightly-contested, but the Mavs still led Detroit 28-26, while shooting 58 percent from the field. The Mavs even hit three three-points in the frame, just one less than they made in the entirety of Monday’s loss to the Clips. Dirk led the Mavs in scoring in the quarter with seven, while Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews each contributed six points of their own.
4. While I do think that the ‘Hack-a-Shaq/Dwight/DeAndre’ is effective at times, it has to be disconcerting for Mavs fans to see the Mavs reduced to implementing that strategy for the second game in a row. It has to be embarrassing that the ‘Hack-a-Whoever’ plan is seemingly the only way for them to keep pace with a team like Detroit, which is a middling offensive team at best.
5. David Lee finally had an off-night for the Mavs on Wednesday, and Dallas clearly missed his production off the bench. Detroit is strong on the block, and Lee just couldn’t seem to find a way to affect the game like he has in every other outing since joining the Mavs.
6. After a chilly second quarter of shooting for Dallas, the Pistons took control of the lead, and sat on top at halftime by a score of 54-52. CP, who outside of Dirk and David Lee has seemingly been the only Mav with a consistent pulse in the last three games, did everything in his power to keep the Mavs in it, and he led all scorers with 17 points in the half.
7. How is Steve Blake still playing basketball? By my count, Blake has now played for nine NBA teams in 12 years, averaging 6.6 points and four assists per contest for his career. He even has a paltry 11.65 Player Efficiency Rating according to ESPN.com, and currently ranks in the bottom 50 in the NBA in that stat.
8. Coming into this game, the Pistons sat with a 32-31 record, good for ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and just half-a-game behind the Bulls for the eight-spot. They play in a decent division, and frankly, they have been out-performing expectations this season. They’re a young, athletic and determined bunch, and they are one of the best rebounding groups in the league. Oh, and they’re also coached by everybody’s favorite used-car salesman – Stan Van Gundy.
9. That being said, Detroit has a legitimate franchise player, and a budding superstar, in Andre Drummond. Drummond is currently averaging 16.7 points-per-game, while leading the NBA with massive 15.1 rebounds-per-game, and he’s only 22 years old. He’s a beast. Though he struggles from the line (like most centers seem to these days), he can score around the rim, and he’s elite defender and rebounder.
The sky is the limit for this guy, and if he can manage to improve his free-throw shooting, the rest of the NBA needs to be on high alert.
10. Zaza Pachulia has to be an infuriating guy for other teams to play against. His relentless energy and hard-nosed play always seem to aggravate opposing centers, and Wednesday was no exception. Throughout the night, Zaza set devastating screens and battled Andre Drummond for nearly every rebound he could. Pachulia wears down opposing big men in nearly every game, and even when he isn’t filling the stat book, his impact is being felt on the floor.
11. After yet another evenly-contested quarter, Detroit held its narrow 76-74 lead heading into the final frame. Drummond continued to punish the Mavs inside, amassing 24 points and 16 boards through three quarters, while CP led the Mavs with 23 points of his own.
12. After getting torched in fast-break points in their last three outings (all losses), the Mavs did a much better job on the defensive end limiting transition points. Detroit isn’t necessarily known for having a fast paced offense, but Dallas need to improve in that area to have a chance to win here, and they did that.
Said Wes Matthews: "We took a step in the right direction. We’ve been getting (beat) in transition points and we held them to 10 this game. We’ve got to put it all together.''
Small consolation. But it's something.
13. In the end, the Mavs’ offensive struggles reared their ugly head yet again, despite a promising start in the opening quarter. After being handed their fourth straight defeat, and their third consecutive at home, the Mavs must go back to the drawing board and figure out their offensive issues in a hurry. This is the first time in over a year that the Mavs have lost four consecutive games.
Something is wrong.
"We are having some bad luck, but in situation, you have to make your luck. I don’t fault our effort one single bit but we just made some uncharacteristically loose plays with the ball at times. We had some bad decision-making at key times, and with the slim margins of error that we are working with to begin with, we just can’t survive that. Detroit is a good team. They are very strong and physical. They have more athletic guys then us at virtually every position, so we have to play a really solid and efficient game, and we just didn’t quite do it.”
Stat(s) of the night: Dominance in the paint. Detroit and Andre Drummond manhandled the Mavs in the paint, outscoring Dallas 42-40 inside, and winning the battle on the boards 51-40.
This game was over when... Reggie Jackson nailed a circus-shot three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Detroit up 98-92 with just under a minute to go in the game.
Should have seen coming... Andre Drummond. The 22-year-old had 25 points and 17 boards, and clearly looks like one of the NBA’s best centers at this point.
Couldn't see coming... Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris. The duo combined for 39 points and 14 rebounds, and killed the Mavs all night.
What's next? Dallas (33-32) welcomes former Mavs guard Monta Ellis and the Indiana Pacers (34-30) to the American Airlines Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be Monta’s first visit to the AAC since signing with the Pacers this last summer, and one would think that he’ll be a little juiced up for revenge.
The Final Word: "All you can do is focus on the next game. We've got two days to get better, get some rest and keep the spirits up." - Dirk.