Deron Williams dished out nine assists to power the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, but the Detroit Pistons won it with outside shooting in the fourth quarter.

Deron neared a double-double, filling the stat sheet with eight points and five boards, plus the game-high nine dimes. In the fourth quarter, the Mavs were 0-for-6 collectively from the free-throw line, while the Pistons hit four times from beyond the arc to close out the 102-96 defeat for Dallas.

Three of Deron’s assists came in the fourth quarter to bring Dallas back to within three points with two minutes to go. But with 58.9 left, Detroit’s Reggie Jackson tossed up a wild three to beat the shot clock, and his prayer was answered. With the lead suddenly back to six, the Mavs never recovered.

“I mean, we put ourselves in that position where it was that close,” Deron said. “It was definitely a lucky shot. He was trying to get fouled on it. But those things happen. They go in.”

Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks

Deron was distributing at a high level right from the start. He dished to Dirk Nowitzki for a trey for the team’s first points of the night. Wes Matthews added another three on the following possession, and No. 8 capped the 8-2 run with a second dime to Dirk.

Dallas shoot 58 percent in the first quarter. Seven minutes into the game, Deron put the Mavs ahead five, 18-13, scoring a layup off the pick-and-roll. The Mavs led by seven, but a quick 5-0 spurt from the Pistons made it just a two-point game, 28-26, at the end of one.

The Mavs started fast in the second quarter, taking an eight-point lead with 6:24 to go until halftime, but the Pistons responded with a 14-3 run. Detroit led by seven with two minutes left in the half, but the Mavs fought back. D-Will capped a 7-2 spurt with an assist on a Parsons three to cut it to two, 54-52, at the break.

Deron and Dallas kept that going out of the locker room. He fed to Zaza Pachulia down low for the team’s first bucket of the half. Moments later, he drained a wide-open midrange jumper to put the Mavs on top 57-56.

In a game of runs, Detroit responded with a 9-1 spurt to quickly get ahead seven. But then came the Mavs run. Deron found Dirk for a three-pointer to cut it to two midway through the third quarter, and then late in the frame, No. 8 knotted the game at 72 with a deep three. The Pistons led by two at the end of three.

Detroit Pistons v Dallas Mavericks

Deron deadlocked it again at 79 early in the final frame with a dime to Dirk Nowitzki before Dallas took the lead one final time, 81-80, thanks to David Lee’s cutting dunk. But then the Pistons took control.

The difference came from deep: Detroit hit four key three-pointers down the stretch, while the Mavs came up empty. Dallas had endured two Marcus Morris three-pointers and one from Steve Blake, and fought back to within three. D-Will sent out assists to Nowitzki and Parsons along the way, and Pachulia made it a one-possession game with a vintage three-point play. But then came Jackson’s dagger three.

“We’re having some bad luck, but in situations like this, you have to make your luck,” said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle. “I don’t fault our effort one single bit. But we had some uncharacteristically loose plays with the ball. It’s a difficult time, without question. 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.’’

TECHNICAL CONTROVERSY

Deron and Carlisle made headlines after Wednesday’s contest due to a controversial technical foul call against No. 8.

During a critical time in the third quarter with the Mavs trailing by seven, D-Will was in a conversation with an official, David Jones, during a timeout. Deron walked into the Dallas huddle, and Jones followed him over to the bench. At this point, Carlisle said afterward, Jones “baited” Deron into a technical foul.

“He went out of his way,” Carlisle said of Jones. “He could have walked away from it. I said, ‘I got it. Let it go.’ He said, ‘No. I got it.’ He walked back into our huddle and baited Deron Williams into getting into a technical. And I don’t think that that’s right. A referee’s job is to defuse a situation.”

For Deron, mum was the word.

“I made a decision about 10 years [ago] in my career that I wasn’t going to comment about officials,” Deron said. “Save my money. I already got a technical. That’s money right there, so I’m not going to comment any further and risk any more money.”

Jones didn’t comment immediately after the game, but the following day, he contacted Carlisle and apologized, as the Dallas coach said in a text to several reporters on Thursday.

“With the League’s permission, referee David Jones contacted me today to apologize for the situation that developed with Deron Williams last night,” Carlisle said in the text. “I accepted his apology and told him that I now consider this matter in the past.”

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS – MAR. 10

  1. Golden State Warriors (57-6)
  2. San Antonio Spurs (54-10) 3.5 GB
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (44-20) 13.5 GB
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (41-22) 16 GB
  5. Memphis Grizzlies (38-26) 19.5 GB
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (34-31) 24 GB
  7. Dallas Mavericks (33-32) 25 GB
  8. Houston Rockets (32-32) 25.5 GB

NEXT UP

The Mavericks (33-32) conclude their three-game homestead against the Indiana Pacers (34-30) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CT.

The Mavs will be looking to avenge a 107-81 loss to the Pacers from Dec. 16. That game marked Indiana’s third straight win against Dallas.

“Definitely concerned right now because we’re trending down,” Deron said. “And Utah’s not that far behind us. We have a tough schedule coming up the next eight, 10 games. We’re not making it any easier on ourselves when we lose these ones at home.”

The Pacers have been trending upward as of late. They’ve won three of their past four games, most recently upsetting the San Antonio Spurs, 99-91, on Monday.

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