Deron Williams and the Dallas Mavericks remained competitive through the first three quarters of Wednesday nights’s game, but their defense ultimately let them down, as they fell late to the Detroit Pistons at the American Airlines Center, 95-85.
D-Will was one of two Mavericks to reach double digits in the scoring column, contributing 16 points, five assists and three rebounds, as Harrison Barnes led the team with 19 points.
The Mavs shot 41 percent from the floor, 32 percent (8-of-25) from three, while the visiting Pistons turned in 51 and 29 (5-of-17) percent shooting clips, respectively.
Reggie Jackson led Detroit’s offensive effort with a team-leading 20 points and six assists. Andre Dummond grabbed a game-best 17 boards, as the Pistons out-rebounded the Mavs, 50-30.
The back-and-forth affair featured nine ties and 12 lead changes before the Pistons pulled away in the final frame, outscoring the Mavs 35-21 in the period.
Deron kept Dallas afloat in the first half, leading the game in scoring to that point with 10 points. D-Will’s first three points came from the charity stripe, as he capped Dallas’ 10-0 spurt to give the team a 10-6 advantage with 4:14 to play in the first quarter.
The Pistons stormed back with an 8-2 run of their own to tie it at 13-all before the Mavs took a 20-17 lead into the second stanza.
Deron found Anderson early for a triple to push Dallas’ lead back to six, 26-20, but Detroit wouldn’t let up.
No. 8 kept the Mavs competitive with five straight points on a pair of free throws and a three-pointer to give them a 33-32 edge about midway through the quarter.
The lead swapped back and forth from there, but Deron was responsible for the final two field goals of the half, finding Wesley Matthews for an alley-oop dunk and pulling up for a jumper to knot it at 43-all.
D-Will continued to contribute in the second half, pulling up for another jumper and feeding Dorian Finney-Smith for a cutting dunk to start things off for Dallas, 47-all. From there, the Mavs ripped off a 17-5 run to take their largest lead of the game, 64-52, with 3:20 to go.
The Pistons held the Mavs scoreless the rest of the period, straining together eight straight points to get within 64-60 going into the fourth.
“I think our scoring drought really took a toll on our defense,” Barnes said. “At the beginning of the season, our defense was something we could rely on. Made or missed shots, we couldn’t really buy a whole bunch of buckets, but we always defended. Tonight, we let our offense dictate our defense. We were making shots and feeling good, and I think we were defending well. And then when we went on that drought, I think our defense suffered. And that’s what let them back in the game.”
The Pistons (14-13) carried that momentum into the final frame, where they built a 10-point advantage over the first seven minutes. The Mavs pulled within four, thanks to Deron’s assist to Dwight Powell for an alley-oop dunk and his three straight free throws, but that was as close as they came to flipping the lead.
“Everybody is beat up, and I feel like my body caught up a little bit tonight for me, too,” Matthews said. “Everybody is going to play through something during the NBA season. Unfortunately, we’ve been hit a little bit harder, but guys are going to play. We’re going to leave it out there every single night, and that’s what’s frustrating. We had control of the game the whole night but that last quarter, but we’ll learn from it. Look at what we did wrong and what we did well, and go out there and get Utah.”
Deron and the Mavs (6-19) hit the road to compete at the Utah Jazz on Friday, Dec. 16. The game, which will broadcast nationally on ESPN, is timed to tip off at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs will be looking to even the series at one after falling in Utah earlier this season, 97-81, despite D-Will turning in 12 points and a game-high nine assists.
The Jazz (16-10) have won five of their past six, most recently blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, 109-89. Utah is led by Gordon Hayward (22.9 ppg), Rudy Gobert (11.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg) and George Hill (4.2 apg, 1.1 spg).