Even by the Dallas Mavericks’ lofty standards, what transpired Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the Detroit Pistons was a new low.
The Pistons’ physically charged 102-96 victory over the struggling Mavs was Dallas’ season-high fourth straight loss and the first time the Mavs have lost four in more than a year. It also dropped the seventh-seeded Mavs to 33-32, just half a game ahead of eighth-seeded Houston (32-32) in the Western Conference standings.
It was another night where the Mavs couldn’t produce any key stops, couldn’t make any key baskets and couldn’t find the necessary energy to halt the Pistons (33-31). And with another tough team coming to town Saturday at 1 p.m. when Dallas entertains the Indiana Pacers, things could get worse for the Mavs before they get better.
“I trust these guys, but my job is to lead and to direct them in a way they need to be directed to fix the problems that we’re having and reinforce the good things that we’re doing,” coach Rick Carlisle said during his somber postgame press conference. “We’re doing a lot of good things, and we’re getting a lot of high quality shots, we just got to keep steeping into those — those are going to fall.
“It’s just eliminating some of the other untimely bad decisions, turnovers, what have you.”
The Pistons basically iced this game when Reggie Jackson hoisted up and made a wild 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down to give Detroit a 98-92 lead with 58.1 seconds left. Center Zaza Pachulia had poked the ball away from Aron Baynes on the play, and the ball found Jackson on the perimeter.
I trust these guys, but my job is to lead and to direct them in a way they need to be directed to fix the problems that we’re having and reinforce the good things that we’re doing. ... It’s just eliminating some of the other untimely bad decisions, turnovers, what have you.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
Jackson also hit one of two free throws as Detroit led 100-94. Then, as if it was déja vú, Chandler Parsons couldn’t get the ball inbounds and was whistled for a 5-second violation.
On Sunday in Denver with the Mavs up by two points, Parsons reluctantly tossed the ball inbounds, but it was intercepted by the Nuggets and led to a basket that sent that game into overtime, where the Mavs lost it.
“We’re having some bad luck and in this situation you got to make your luck,” Carlisle said. “I don’t fault our effort one single bit, but we made some uncharacteristically loose plays with the ball a few times. We had some bad decision-making at key times.
“With the slim margins of error that we’re working with to begin with, we just can’t survive that. We got to play a really solid and efficient game and we just didn’t quite do it.”
Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 25 points and 17 rebounds, and Marcus Morris added 20 points and seven boards.
Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Parsons (25 points, six assists) paced the Mavs, and Pachulia added 10 points and 13 rebounds. But the Mavs’ defense betrayed them again as this was the 13th consecutive game the Mavs have allowed 100 or more points in a game, their longest such streak in 22 years.
I don’t fault our effort one single bit, but we made some uncharacteristically loose plays with the ball a few times. We had some bad decision-making at key times.
The Mavs led 28-26 after the first quarter, but were behind 54-52 at the half. By then, Drummond already had 20 points and eight rebounds as the Mavs resorted to intentionally fouling him.
But nothing seemed to work, and now the Mavs find themselves in a pickle.
“It’s a difficult time, without question,” Carlisle said. “Sticking together and communicating with each other and just finding little ways to help each other through the tough portions of the game is what it’s about, and that’s what we’re going to have to do better come Saturday.”
The Mavericks’ streak of allowing at least 100 points in 13 consecutive games is their longest in 22 years.
Pacers at Mavericks
1 p.m. Saturday, FSSW