As the Dallas Mavericks played their 57th game of the season Saturday night, they were able to accomplish something they hadn’t accomplished all season.
Taking balanced productivity to a whole new level, the Mavs had three players record double-doubles in the same game for the first time this season en route to a 113-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
That’s impressive considering the Mavs only have 23 double-doubles for the entire season.
Shawn Marion collected 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Samuel Dalembert added 12 points and 11 boards. Yet, it was the solid play of Monta Ellis that got coach Rick Carlisle talking.
Showing patience early on, Ellis broke free for 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavs won for the eighth time in 10 games and increased their record to 34-23.
“Ellis played a great, great game,” Carlisle said. “Fantastic defense, great floor game, timely scoring.
“He was the key player tonight.”
After the Pistons chopped a 13-point deficit down to nine, Ellis picked up back-to-back spectacular driving layups to bump the Mavs’s lead to 111-100 with 2:38 remaining. The Pistons had no answer for him in the final 12 minutes.
“I thought Monta’s floor game was phenomenal tonight,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a team-high 24 points. “They trapped him off the screen-and-roll, and he found the open guy. And in the fourth quarter, they didn’t trap him any more and that’s when he got in the lane and basically took the game over for us.”
In addition to riding Ellis’ game, the Mavs were stoked about winning the rebounding battle against one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA.
With seven players grabbing at least four rebounds, Dallas outrebounded Detroit 50-39, including 16-9 on the offensive end, which would have been unheard of from this team early in the season.
“They’ve been inspired, and it’s not by me,” Carlisle said. “They’ve taken the challenge and we’ve just got to continue to do it.”
Vince Carter certainly was inspirational. He tallied eight of his 18 points in the first quarter, helping the Mavs to a 29-27 lead. Carter also added six rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes.
“I was just trying to do my part,” said Carter, who converted 3 of 6 baskets from 3-point range. “It’s the second part of the season, so it’s crunch time.”
The No. 8-seeded Mavs certainly enhanced their playoff chances Saturday. They gained a game on ninth-place Memphis, who dropped to 31-24 after losing to Charlotte on Saturday.
In the meantime, the Mavs used a 35-point second quarter to assume a 64-54 lead at intermission. Detroit, behind 32 points from Josh Smith, managed to close the Mavs’ gap to 88-82 entering the fourth quarter.
But Ellis got loose from there, and the Mavs were able to put some distance between themselves and the Pistons.
Now 2-0 on this three-game road trip, the Mavs also reduced their turnovers from the season-high 25 they had Friday at Philadelphia to just 14 against the Pistons.
“It helps when you don’t turn the ball over, plain and simple,” Carter said. “We’re efficient when we take care of the ball.”