Mavericks 113 Pistons 102
Points - 32 - Josh Smith
Rebounds - 17 - Greg Monroe
Assists - 13 - Monta Ellis
For the 34th time this season, tonight, the Pistons weren't the better team on the floor. The loss, coupled with Charlotte's win over the Grizzlies, drops the Pistons to 3.5 games back of the Bobcats for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Mavericks took advantage of Andre Drummond's foul trouble, dominating the glass. Dallas managed to rebound 34.8% of their misses, while holding the Pistons to a 21% Offensive Rebounding Rate, well below their league leading mark of 35%. Dallas' well-executed system and willingness to share the ball showed to be superior to Detroit's isolation offense. 70.5% of Dallas' made field goals were assisted, where as the Pistons only managed an assist on 52.5% of their made baskets. That stat proved to be most important in the fourth quarter when the Pistons stopped getting a slew of buckets from Josh Smith and had to rely on motion to score. The well went dry and the Pistons just didn't have enough to muster a comeback in the fourth quarter after cutting the lead to 6 going into the final period.
Had the Pistons been able to manage a victory, the story of the night would have been Josh Smith's 32 points. The bigger story behind that was how efficiently he did it; making 14 of his 20 field goal attempts. It was a display of what he can do when he only launches one three in a game, as he worked from the mid-range into the post, attacking off the dribble. Smith mixed in three assists, three blocks, three rebounds and a steal. Greg Monroe also played well, tallying another double-double with 17 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks. He demonstrated his persistence in the paint, scoring efficiently in the second half, after a rough first half. Andre Drummond struggled against the Mavericks yet again, only managing 8 points and 3 rebounds in just under 20 minutes played.
The loss almost certainly pushes me into the tank camp. After last night's somewhat inspiring win after a strong comeback, this loss was equally discouraging. The team seemed to give up about halfway through the fourth quarter when they realized that the Dallas Mavericks weren't the decimated Atlanta Hawks team they had played the night before. The Mavericks didn't roll over any time the Pistons made a small run, and Detroit didn't have the will to keep fighting when Dallas pushed the lead to 11 with three minutes left. From here, the Pistons need to do whatever it takes to finish in the bottom eight of the league. As of tonight, they are only two games up on the 8th-worst record in the league, and only 4 games ahead of a top-five draft slot. The schedule only gets tougher, so let's do the familiar thing from the past few years, and root for some losses.