A flurry of 3-pointers by Mike James and Vince Carter stretched Dallas’ lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter, but Detroit roared off a 24-8 run to take a 97-96 lead -- their first since the first quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki, who was quiet for most of the night, came up with a couple of big buckets during crunch time. After Pistons rookie Khris Middleton's go-ahead corner 3 with 2:29 remaining, Nowitzki knocked down contested midrange jumpers on Dallas’ next two possessions, giving the Mavs the lead for good.
But Nowitzki, who finished with 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting, missed midrange jumpers on the Mavs’ last two possessions, leaving the door open for Detroit to send the game into overtime.
The 23-41 Pistons failed to take advantage of the opportunity. Charlie Villanueva’s tip-in with six seconds remaining, which trimmed the deficit to one, was Detroit’s only points in the final two minutes. Villanueva missed an open 3 with seconds remaining after Darren Collison's clutch free throws bumped the Mavs' lead back to three.
O.J. Mayo scored a game-high 22 points, shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Seven Mavs scored in double figures.
What it means: The Mavs have gotten out of their four-loss-in-five-games rut with two straight wins. Dallas improved to 28-33, including 20-7 against teams that are under .500. The 11th-place Mavs are 3 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the West after Utah’s loss to Chicago.
Play of the game: The most memorable plays weren’t quite highlights. Pick your favorite Pistons blooper: Jason Maxiell getting stuffed by the rim on an uncontested dunk, or Brandon Knight missing a breakaway layup.
Stat of the night: James is 11-of-20 from 3-point range over the past four games, including 4-of-6 against the Pistons. The hot streak represents a remarkable turnaround for the 37-year-old guard, who knocked down only seven of 32 3-point attempts this season before suddenly finding his range.