If this keeps up, the Dallas Mavericks may want to petition the NBA to play all of the Eastern Conference teams on the road.
Looking lethargic Wednesday night in their first home game of the New Year, the Mavs were humbled by the Detroit Pistons 108-95 at the American Airlines Center.
The loss snapped the Mavs’ six-game winning streak and dropped their record to 26-11. Detroit, meanwhile, is the NBA’s hottest team and has won all seven of its games since waiving Josh Smith on Dec. 22.
Fresh off a victory in San Antonio on Tuesday, the Pistons never trailed and simply pounded the Mavs on the boards, winning by a sizable 60-43 margin. It was as if the Mavs had their sneakers filled with cement.
“We made a few runs, but we never got enough traction,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, we got beat in every single quarter — and we were able to tie one quarter.
“So really, essentially it was a wipeout. From start to finish, they just outplayed us.”
With former University of Texas star D.J. Augustin pouring in 17 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, the Pistons improved to 12-23.
The Mavs had just completed a 3-0 road trip out East and are a perfect 11-0 on the road against Eastern Conference squads.
But this is not the same Pistons team that the Mavs defeated at The Palace of Auburn Hills 117-106 on Dec. 17. Once the Pistons rid themselves of Smith, they’ve been untouchable.
“Look, it’s no accident that they’re on a seven-game winning streak and they’ve beaten some good teams,” Carlisle said. “They’re playing at a high level, and tonight they were just better.
“I thought at the beginning we just got off to a slow start and we just never had enough of a hit-first disposition. We made runs and we got close a few times but could never sustain, and they got more aggressive during those stretches and they’d hold us off.”
The Mavs, who trailed 54-49 at the half and 74-68 entering the fourth quarter, got within 81-77 after Dirk Nowitzki hit a free throw following a technical foul on Augustin.
That seemed to fuel Augustin, who drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, converted a three-point play and floated in a basket in the lane to pad Detroit’s lead to 97-84.
“I still think we had enough chances,” said Nowitzki, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “We had them down to four. We had a possession to make it a one possession game, then the next thing you know it’s a 10-point game.”
The Mavs had issues keeping Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond off the boards. Monroe had 27 points and 18 rebounds, and Drummond had six points and 19 boards.
“The rebounding problems caught up to us tonight in a big way, because we turned it over quite a bit and our shot-making wasn’t great,” Carlisle said. “When you can’t mitigate a rebounding deficit with those two things in your favor, then it’s going to be tough.
“I give Detroit a lot of credit. We just weren’t good enough tonight.”
The Mavs committed 14 turnovers, with half of them being committed by Rajon Rondo, who also had six rebounds and eight assists. The 6-of-22 shooting by the Mavs from 3-point range also kept them from gaining any traction.
“Some bad turnovers,” Nowitzki said. “I feel like we were a step slow on both ends of the floor all night long.
“Just one of those nights where just whatever we tried didn’t really work. We were just a step slow to everything.”
The Mavs will try to correct their problems beginning Saturday when they open a three-game Western Conference road trip at the Los Angeles Clippers. Based on what’s coming next, the Mavs were disappointed they weren’t able to protect their home court against the Pistons.
“That’s a tough loss, especially going out West again here coming up,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to address the home, obviously, if we want to be a good team and a tough road team in the West.
“We’ve got to win at home. We’ve got to win big games at home ... and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760