Unless it comes from the Mavericks.
Dallas held Detroit to 23 points in the game’s first 22 minutes and went on to beat the slumping Pistons 95-88 on Monday night.
“I’m not worried about how many points they have or what their shooting percentage was,” new Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “I’m happy with the fact that we are taking teams deeper into the shot clock and making them rush shots. Earlier in the season, that didn’t happen—we were only playing defense for 12 or 14 seconds. To win, you have to play defense for the whole 24.”
Shawn Bradley knows that tough defense hasn’t always been the Mavericks’ trademark.
“We know our offense is going to roll—we have All-World scorers out there,” he said. “But the X factor for us is going to be maintaining a solid defense. Tonight, we beat Detroit with mental toughness. That’s not something this team has exactly been known for.”
The Mavericks have won six of seven, while the defending champions lost for the fourth time in five games.
“We definitely have to go back to what got us winning basketball games,” said Tayshaun Prince. “I’m hoping we can regain our focus.”
Josh Howard led Dallas with 24 points, while Dirk Nowitzki added 22 and Keith Van Horn had 17 off the bench.
“That was like a playoff game,” Howard said. “It’s good to beat the champs. I know they are in a slump, but they played a terrific game tonight.”
Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 26 and Richard Hamilton added 23, but the Pistons bench only managed a season-low two points. Detroit’s top perimeter backups—Lindsey Hunter, Carlos Arroyo and Carlos Delfino—have gone scoreless in 41 combined minutes over the last two games.
“I thought our starters played hard, but we have to find a way to get some production from the bench,” Pistons interim coach Gar Heard said. “We still have a lot of new guys that we are trying to work in, and we have not had a lot of time to practice.”
Dallas led by 17 points with 90 seconds left in the first half, but Detroit went on a quick 8-0 run to pull within 42-33 at the intermission. The Pistons continued the rally after the break and went ahead 51-50 on Billups’ three free throws midway through the third.
Dallas regained the lead late in the quarter, then saw Devin Harris beat Arroyo down the floor and hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give them a 70-65 edge.
“I thought that was the turning point of the game,” Heard said. “It would have been easier to go into the fourth down two. We have to stop the ball there.”
Billups hit three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the fourth period, but Van Horn had two 3s and a short jumper to help the Mavericks stay ahead 80-74 with 9:20 to go.
Howard’s three-point play with 6:07 remaining go made it 86-76 and the Pistons never threatened again. ^Notes: The teams combined for only 26 points in the second quarter, with Dallas scoring 14. … Pistons coach Larry Brown (surgery) missed his ninth straight game. His return is still uncertain. The Pistons are 8-8 without Brown this year. … The Pistons’ bench got their only points on Darvin Ham’s dunk in the last minute of the third quarter. The Dallas reserves, led by Van Horn, scored 26. … Rasheed Wallace picked up a third-quarter technical, his eighth in the last 11 games. … The road team won both games in the season series.