AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- While Dirk Nowitzki was rediscovering his jump shot, the Dallas Mavericks were collecting their first road win of the season.
And along the way, the Mavs discovered a capable backup to the injured Jason Kidd.
A good time was had by all Tuesday night as the Mavs beat up the hapless Detroit Pistons 100-86 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. In sending the Pistons to their fifth straight loss, the Mavs forced 20 turnovers, shot 55.1 percent from the field and were relentless on defense.
Nowitzki, who entered the game with just 16 points on 5-of-22 shooting during the past two games, busted out of his slump by scoring 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Yet it was the solid all-around play of point guard Delonte West that really grabbed coach Rick Carlisle's attention.
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Running the offense in place of Kidd, West scored six points and distributed 10 assists, while his tenacious defense helped him collect five of the Mavs' 13 steals while bottling up the Pistons' offense.
"It's not often you've got a guy on the floor that goes 9 for 10 but there's [another] guy on the floor that's actually the best player on the court," Carlisle said. "And Delonte was the best player on the court tonight, because of his competitiveness.
"That's what we need right now. We need consistency as a team, competitively, and he set a great tone for us the last two games."
Shawn Marion and West put on a two-man show early in the third quarter when one of them would create a steal and the other would end up with a basket or a pair of free throws. That combination, along with the deft shooting by Nowitzki, ignited a 16-0 run that increased a 52-38 halftime lead to 68-40 midway through the third quarter.
"Our job is to try to cause some havoc out there and get some steals and create tempo," West said. "That's what this team is counting on us to do."
While West was the undisputed floor general, Nowitzki fell back into the same groove that led him to being named the Most Valuable Player of last year's NBA Finals.
"I just know to keep on working and getting my legs strong and get my body right," said Nowitzki, who made his first seven shots. "But I definitely had a good rhythm from the beginning."
Carlisle had a premonition Nowitzki would finally locate his shooting touch.
"We all had a feeling that he was going to play a great game tonight, just because of the way the schedule [was] these last couple of games," Carlisle said. "Look, it's a road win that we haven't had yet, so that's really important to us."
A trio of 3-pointers by Vince Carter (11 points), six points by Brendan Haywood and seven turnovers by the Pistons less than five minutes into the game helped jump-start the Mavs. In the end, the Mavs were able to reach the .500 mark (5-5) for the first time this season after opening 0-3.
Now it's on to Boston for a game at 7 tonight against the Celtics, who haven't played since Friday.
"These are the ones you put on your schedule," guard Jason Terry said. "It's like Miami, it's like the Lakers -- these big games.
"This is what you like as a professional."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760