How it happened: Reserve guard Devin Harris, playing his fifth game after recovering from summer toe surgery, put the Mavs on his back during the game’s most important stretch.
Harris, who finished with season highs of 14 points and seven assists, was the driving force behind a 17-4 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and gave Dallas the lead for good. Harris had eight points on 3-of-3 shooting and two assists during the run.
The Pistons pulled within five midway through the fourth quarter, but the Mavs responded with an 8-0 run to slam the door on Detroit with a spurt sparked by a soaring layup off a drive by 37-year-old birthday boy Vince Carter.
Jose Calderon helped make sure the Mavs didn’t blow another double-digit lead, scoring six of his 17 points in the final 5:12. He was 7-of-8 from the floor, the finest shooting line on a night when the Mavs made 58.1 percent of their shots from the floor.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting. His night ended when he hit a dagger 3 with 54.8 seconds left to leave no doubt that the Mavs had the win in the bag.
What it means: After a disappointing road trip, the Mavs got rid of the losing taste in their mouths by beating the 17-27 Pistons. Dallas improved to 26-20 to stay a half-game behind the seventh-place Phoenix Suns and move two games ahead of the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings.
Play of the game: Harris pulled up in transition and drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. That bumped the Mavs’ lead to five and provided some of the fuel for the 17-4 spurt that was the critical run of the game.
Stat of the night: This was the seventh time the Mavs allowed at least 17 offensive rebounds this season, but they’ve managed to go undefeated in those games.