How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki had a routine night for him and three other Mavs starters had double-doubles.
Nowitzki scored 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but Monta Ellis stepped up as the Mavs’ closer. Ellis scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, as Dallas slammed the door on a Detroit squad that made a third-quarter run to pull within four points.
Ellis served as a facilitator for most of the game, matching his season high with 13 assists. He was 5-of-9 from the floor and committed only two turnovers.
Shawn Marion (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Samuel Dalembert (12 points, 11 rebounds) had their eighth and third double-doubles of the season, respectively. They were the key to the Mavs winning the rebounding battle against the Pistons, who feature one of the NBA’s biggest frontcourts.
The Mavs overcame a season-high 32-point performance by Pistons forward Josh Smith. Smith was 14-of-20 from the floor but failed to score in the fourth quarter.
What it means: The Mavs improved to 34-23 with their ninth win in 12 games and have a two-game cushion over ninth-place Memphis with the Grizzlies losing Saturday night in Charlotte. Dallas is 16-14 on the road and 17-8 against the Eastern Conference after sweeping the back-to-back in Philadelphia and Detroit. The Pistons, the East’s ninth-place team, dropped to 23-33.
Play of the game: Smith blew by Marion at the left elbow and threw down a tomahawk dunk over DeJuan Blair despite being fouled. The and-1 bucket midway through the third quarter offered a glimpse of the elite athleticism the Pistons’ overpaid forward possesses and sparked a 7-0 Detroit run that sliced the Mavs’ lead to six.
Stat of the night: Smith’s performance marked the third straight game the Mavs have allowed a season-high scoring night to an opposing forward, joining Miami’s LeBron James (42 points) and Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young (30).