DALLAS -- During their first 25 games this season, the Dallas Mavericks have managed to put together a winning streak consisting of two games just one time all year.
They were confident they were going to match that modest winning streak on Wednesday night. But the Detroit Pistons had other plans.
Detroit totally battered the Mavs on the boards, winning the rebounding battle, 50-30. That was the impetus the Pistons used to get out of American Airlines Center with a hard-fought 95-85 win before a sellout crowd of 19,687.
As far as rebounds go, the Pistons played volleyball with the basketball all night and only let the Mavs in on the board game for a few times. Detroit center Andre Drummond even outrebounded the Mavs in the first quarter by himself, 12-6.
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Drummond collected 10 rebounds less than eight minutes into the game. The Mavs, in fact, had just nine rebounds in the first half, which is two shy of the team record for rebounds in the first half of any game they’ve ever played.
"When it came down to it in the fourth (quarter) we struggled to hit shots and our rebounding really wasn’t there all night,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "We turned them over a lot in the first half, but we only had nine rebounds in the first half, which is the lowest number I’ve ever seen.’’
Despite the rebounding woes, the Mavs were tied with the Pistons at the half (43-43) and actually mustered up enough steam to bolt ahead 64-52 with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter.
It was at that point that the Mavs ran out of the essentials needed to win a roughhouse game of this nature, as the Pistons went on a 27-5 tear and totally rattled the home team.
Harrison Barnes (19) and Deron Williams (16) were the top scorers for the Mavs. But they got very little help from their teammates.
Coming off the best nine-game scoring stretch of his eight-year career, Wesley Matthews scored a season-low four points on 2-of-10 shots. Matthews hopes to get his shooting stroke back when the Mavs play in Utah on Friday.
"This was one frustrating tonight because we had control of the game for most of it,’’ Matthews said. "But that last quarter, we’ll learn from it and look at what went wrong, what we did well and go out there and try to get Utah.
"I feel like my body caught up to me a little bit tonight, too. Everybody is going to play through something during an NBA season.’’
Already without injured center Andrew Bogut, the Mavs lost backup center Salah Mejri for the rest of the game to a right ankle injury when he hobbled off the court with 4:10 left in the third quarter and Dallas ahead 59-52.
"I think I stepped on somebody’s foot,’’ said Mejri, who finished with four points, eight rebounds and three blocks. "I was watching the ball and not paying attention to the floor and stepped on somebody’s foot.
"We had an X-ray and it didn’t show anything bad. We’ll see tomorrow how it is and I hope to be good by tomorrow."
"Everybody knows what I can do when I’m out there,’’ Mejri said. "Protect the rim is the most simple thing I can do, and when Dwight (Powell) is there he has other things to do out there.
"(The Pistons) have good big men and they are very strong. They can protect the rim, too.’’
Reggie Jackson led Detroit with 20 points and six assists, Jon Leuer scored 19, Marcus Morris tallied 12, and Aron Baynes added eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Mavs (6-19) hope to rebound from this loss by the time they take the court in Utah. Dallas shot 41 percent from the field, but was only 8-of-25 from 3-point range, with Matthews missing all five of his 3-point attempts.
"We fought hard tonight, but a couple of sloppy plays, drought scoring and you know it wasn’t from a lack of effort,’’ Matthews said. "We’ll look at where things went wrong and get ready to go back and get it back in Utah.’’
Not only were the Mavs without Bogut, but Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) and J. J. Barea (calf) also sat out as they continued to recover from injuries that have no specific timetable for their return.
"Unfortunately we’ve been hit a little bit harder,’’ Matthews said of the Mavs’ injuries. "But we are going to play and leave it all out there every single night.’’
That’s what the Mavs tried to do against the Pistons. The strategy just didn’t work, although Dallas led 20-17 after the first quarter thanks to seven points from Barnes.
"We have to fight through this – a lot of injuries everywhere,’’ Mejri said. "We have to fight through it, and we’ll be good.’’