Game 32: Mavs vs. Pistons

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GAME RECAP: Mavericks 110, Pistons 93

Harrison Barnes scores 25 points and seven rebounds as the Mavericks get the victory over the Pistons, 110-93.

DALLAS — After playing the previous six games without their first-year floor general, the Dallas Mavericks were excited to see the return of rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. to the court Wednesday night.

Looking to end a three-game losing streak, the Mavericks hoped to play inspired basketball with Smith back in the lineup. The Mavs also hoped to raise their level of play against the streaking Detroit Pistons, who came to town riding the wave of three straight wins. And with their rookie sensation helping to lead the charge, the Mavericks (9-23) cruised to a runaway 110-93 victory.

“It was bad, great, shaky and good,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle candidly said while breaking down Smith’s return. “Look, it’s going to be tough coming off of two weeks and not playing an NBA game. The beginning was a struggle, but I’ve got to say the way he helped us finish the first half was probably the difference of the game. So, he’s extremely important to us.”

Sliding back into the first unit in his return from a left hip strain, Smith tried to help the Mavericks get off to a fast start. Instead, the Pistons (17-14) would quickly emerge as the aggressors in the opening quarter, starting the game on an 11-4 run to force a timeout by Carlisle with 7:44 left in the period.

The Mavericks would quickly respond after Smith’s driving score settled the home team down. A step-back three-pointer from leading scorer Harrison Barnes followed as the Mavs charged to within six, 17-11. An alley-oop connection between veteran reserve Devin Harris and German big man Maxi Kleber brought the crowd out of its seats from there to highlight the quarter. Harris’ driving three-point play brought the Mavs even closer a short time later. And after 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki swished a three from the wing just before the close of the quarter, the Mavericks trailed by just three at 25-22 entering the second stanza.

Starting the second period with Harris’ driving score, the Mavericks continued to mount their comeback. Meanwhile, two-way contract signee Kyle Collinsworth made his NBA debut after signing with the Mavs on Tuesday. Second-standout Yogi Ferrell then lifted the Mavs ahead on the scoreboard, forcing a Detroit timeout with 10:17 remaining in the half after surging ahead 29-28.

However, after back-to-back threes from sharpshooter Anthony Tolliver, the Pistons charged back ahead while opening up a 34-28 edge. Nowitzki then upped his aggression while taking over the Mavericks’ scoring duties. Collinsworth also contributed with a three-pointer for his first career field goal. Five straight points from backup point guard J.J. Barea followed as the Mavericks retook the lead. Smith stepped in from there as the Mavs began to separate themselves, pushing the lead to double digits. The Mavericks’ highest-scoring quarter and half of the season then lifted the home team into the intermission with a 65-53 advantage.

Led by 29 combined points from the duo of Barnes and Smith on 9-of-14 shooting, the Mavericks outshot the Pistons through two quarters, 59 percent to 52.5 percent. The Mavs also overcame Detroit’s 18-16 rebounding edge, connecting on 7-of-15 shooting from three-point range in the half.

“Second quarter, we closed it out strong,” Smith explained. “I started pressuring the ball some more, and we picked up the intensity as a whole defensively. We hit some shots, and that’s probably what changed it.”

Seeing the Pistons come within single digits early in the third period as big man Andre Drummond asserted himself, frustration started to build as Smith was assessed a technical foul at the 9:56 mark of the quarter for arguing with the officials. Meanwhile, Tolliver continued to take charge for his team, bringing the Pistons to within six, 67-61, after a 3-for-3 trip to the foul line.

Veteran swingman Wesley Matthews then began to intervene, connecting on a floater in the lane before swishing a three-pointer to keep the Pistons at bay. Ferrell lent some assistance with a three of his own, forcing a Detroit timeout as the Mavs assumed a 73-61 lead with 6:47 left in the quarter. Another triple from Matthews followed before Ferrell’s trey put the Mavericks up 18, 81-63, with 2:46 remaining in the third. And behind Tunisian big man Salah Mejri’s rim protection on the defensive end, the Mavericks led by as many as 23 before taking an 89-66 margin into the final 12 minutes of play.

Keeping the lead at 23 after Nowitzki capitalized on great ball movement with a three from the top of the key, the Mavericks tried to make quick work of the Pistons in the final period. Ferrell did his part to close the Pistons out, connecting on a floater in the lane to put the Mavs up 100-78 while forcing a Detroit timeout with 6:14 left to play.

Smith and Barnes then proceeded to finish off the win, leading Carlisle to clear his bench with his team up 107-84 and 3:06 remaining. The Mavericks concluded the game with Smith and the Dallas reserves the rest of the way, treating their faithful fans to a decisive win in the process.

Scoring 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, Barnes led the way to the win while grabbing seven rebounds. Smith added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting in his return, grabbing five rebounds and dishing five assists to boot. Nowitzki pitched in 12 points, while Barea and Ferrell finished with 11 points apiece off the bench. Matthews made it six Mavs in double figures with 10 points in the first unit.

“We needed that. We were missing some of the stuff that he brings, obviously. With his mindset of always attacking in the open court, he made some great plays at the rim early. That set a good tone for us,” Nowitzki said of Smith’s return.

“I was just coming out and trying to do what I do. My legs were heavy at first and I had to get my second wind,” Smith added while summing up his night.

Tolliver led five Pistons in double figures with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting. However, the Mavericks outshot the Pistons for the game, 53.3 percent to 42.9 percent, overcoming a 38-37 rebounding disadvantage and their own 12 giveaways by scoring 12 points off Detroit’s 13 turnovers.

“I thought we put together a terrific effort,” Carlisle concluded, “and we’ve just got to sustain this. That’s been our challenge.”

Note: The Mavericks will now hit the road for a two-game trip, traveling to Miami for Friday’s matchup against the Heat. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to their home floor on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center against the Detroit Pistons. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) — expected to play
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

Pistons

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
T. Harris, SF 28 4-16 0-4 2-3 0 4 4 1 2 0 2 1 -16 10
A. Tolliver, PF 30 5-7 4-6 4-4 1 1 2 2 0 0 1 3 -7 18
A. Drummond, C 21 5-7 0-0 1-2 2 11 13 1 0 1 2 4 10 11
R. Bullock, SG 24 2-6 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 -16 4
R. Jackson, PG 20 3-9 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 5 0 0 1 2 -10 6
S. Johnson 28 4-7 2-3 6-6 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 2 -14 16
L. Kennard 17 2-4 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 3 5
I. Smith 23 7-10 0-0 1-1 0 4 4 4 0 0 3 0 -10 15
E. Moreland 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4 -22 0
L. Galloway 17 0-4 0-3 2-2 1 3 4 2 0 0 0 1 -7 2
B. Marjanovic 14 0-4 0-0 4-4 0 3 3 1 0 0 3 2 1 4
H. Ellenson 3 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
A. Bradley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Buycks 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Leuer 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
L. Montero 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   33-77 7-24 20-22 6 32 38 19 4 2 12 19   93
    42.9% 29.2%                      

Show Bench Hide Bench

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
H. Barnes, SF 31 8-15 3-5 6-6 0 7 7 2 1 0 2 0 22 25
M. Kleber, PF 19 1-4 0-1 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 1 1 1 -15 2
D. Nowitzki, C 25 4-9 2-6 2-2 0 4 4 1 0 1 0 0 1 12
W. Matthews, SG 27 4-10 2-5 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 0 1 1 21 10
D. Smith Jr., PG 21 5-10 1-3 4-5 0 5 5 5 0 0 1 3 -6 15
S. Mejri 15 2-3 0-0 1-4 3 2 5 1 0 4 0 4 17 5
Y. Ferrell 31 4-7 3-5 0-0 0 5 5 2 2 0 1 2 15 11
D. Harris 17 3-4 0-1 1-1 0 0 0 3 1 1 2 3 18 7
J. Barea 18 5-6 1-1 0-0 0 3 3 7 1 0 1 0 16 11
D. Powell 20 3-5 1-2 2-2 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 3 0 9
K. Collinsworth 12 1-2 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 -4 3
S. Curry 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Finney-Smith 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. McRoberts 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Motley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
N. Noel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   40-75 14-30 16-20 4 33 37 22 6 7 12 17   110
    53.3% 46.7%                      

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Mejri Block Party

Salah Mejri gets up to reject Stanley Johnson at the rim.

Mejri Denies Bullock At The Rim

Salah Mejri rises for the rejection of Reggie Bullock and smacks it against the glass.

Harrison Barnes Scores 25 vs. Pistons | December 20, 2017

Harrison Barnes drops 25 points and grabs seven rebounds in the Mavericks win over the Pistons.

Postgame: Dennis Smith Jr.

Dennis Smith Jr. addresses the media after dropping 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in his first game back from injury.

Postgame: Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk dishes on Wednesday's 110-93 win over the Pistons.

Dennis Smith Jr. talks to Skin after the win

Dennis Smith Jr. returns from injury to tally 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and a win over the Pistons.

Dirk 41 Moments # 40

Dirk Nowitzki became just fourth player in NBA history to score 40 points at age 37 or older when he did so against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 20, 2016.

One-on-one with Kyle Collinsworth

Earl K. Sneed goes one-on-one with the newest Maverick, Kyle Collinsworth.

Shootaround: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle says Dennis Smith Jr. will return to action tonight against the Pistons.

DALLAS — With their rookie sensation expected to return to the lineup after missing six games, the Dallas Mavericks are hopeful to add a spark Wednesday night against a Detroit Pistons team that has won its last three games.

Seeing his team go 1-5 without him as he nursed a left hip strain, rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is expected to slide back into the starting lineup Wednesday as the Mavericks (8-23) welcome the Pistons (17-13) to town. Smith will now attempt to shake off the rust after being sidelined since suffering the injury against Boston on Dec. 6, looking to build on season averages of 14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 23 games. And although Mavs coach Rick Carlisle didn’t go into detail about any restrictions Smith will face Wednesday night, the team is excited to work him back into the fold.

“He’s doing OK. He’ll play tonight,” Carlisle matter-of-factly said of Smith’s pending return.

With Smith back in action, the Mavericks hope to be energized after three straight losses. The Mavs also hope to contain the NBA’s top rebounder this season in Pistons athletic center Andre Drummond, who’s averaging a league-best 14.9 boards per game this season. That said, Carlisle believes it will be a team responsibility to keep Drummond off the glass Wednesday night. But according to Carlisle, the Mavericks will also have to account for the 6-foot-11 big man in other areas on the court.

“(The challenge) is to block him out. We’ve got to get help from the guards,” Carlisle said while game planning to stop Drummond inside. “Our guards have been doing a terrific job of getting in there and helping with defensive rebounds in particular, so we’ve got to have more of that tonight. You know, Drummond’s a force. He’s a force as a rebounder, as a roller to the basket, and he’s got very quick feet for a guy that size. He makes it difficult to complete lob passes, too.

“Look, he’s really a terrific player. His free-throw shooting has gotten better. In the system that they run, he does a great job of not only rolling and finishing, but also passing. He’s a very underrated passer, so he’s a guy I have great respect for.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the Detroit Pistons. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) — expected to play
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

DALLAS — Returning to the court after another fourth-quarter collapse Monday against Phoenix, the Dallas Mavericks enter Wednesday’s matchup versus the Detroit Pistons with a simple goal of playing a complete 48 minutes.

Falling to a 97-91 defeat Monday at the hands of the Suns, the Mavericks (8-23) squandered a 12-point lead while being outscored 29-16 in the fourth quarter. The Mavs were also held to just 36.4 percent shooting for the game, losing a 49-42 rebounding battle and outscored 44-34 in the paint. The Mavericks will now try to make the necessary corrections in order to seize a much-needed victory Wednesday night against the streaking Pistons (17-13), who have won three games in a row. And with the league’s leading rebounder in Andre Drummond set to invade American Airlines Center, the Mavs will attempt to execute better for a full four quarters.

“It’s a little bit of everything, and execution was a big part of it,” veteran reserve guard Devin Harris admitted after Monday’s loss. “Defensively, we gave up too many paint points, especially in the fourth quarter. I thought in the third quarter we did a great job of keeping them out of the paint, and fourth quarter they did a better job of getting in the paint.

“We came out a little flat (Monday), and the energy was down a little bit. I don’t think that’s been case as of lately. I think we’ve done a better job of starting games, but (Monday night) that wasn’t the case.”

It’s been the Mavericks’ Achilles heel all season, ranking near the bottom of the NBA in the rebounding department during the 2017-18 campaign. Now, the Mavs will attempt to find an answer for Drummond inside and on the glass.

Last season, Drummond finished second in the league while averaging 13.8 rebounds per game. Drummond also dominated the Mavericks in two games last season, pulling down 13.5 boards an outing. He’s since elevated his play this season, ascending to the top of the rebounding category and averaging a career-high 14.9 boards per game to bolster his All-Star resume. And according to coach Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks will make containing Drummond in the interior a team responsibility as they attempt to get the better of the Pistons.

“He’s a big problem, ’cause of the size, the rim threat with lobs, he’s very good in the post, and then the rebounding is a big problem,” Carlisle said with a great amount of respect for Drummond’s impact inside. “He’s one of the league leaders in rebounding, so we’ve got to keep a body on him. You know, he just keeps a lot of balls alive, and he’s one of these second- and third-jump guys that’s really, really quick. So, it’s a big challenge. We got hurt on the boards (last season), even though it was one of the things we emphasized coming into the game. And we’ve got to do a better job (Wednesday).”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the Detroit Pistons. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) — questionable
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out