The Dallas Mavericks (31-26) notched a 127-117 victory over the Detroit Pistons (18-41) in a game that saw an explosive first quarter fueled by a 15-point outburst by Jerami Grant, but soon after the Mavs took over.
If not for Grant fouling his way onto the bench by picking up his fourth early on in the third quarter, Dallas may have had a much tighter game on its hands.
Instead viewers were put on the nightly Luka Doncic triple-double alert, finishing just shy with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Mavs pulled back to .500 at home with a 14-14 record at the AAC.
Shake up in the starting line up
The lack of energy on the court has clearly been the biggest factor in Dallas’ most recent slump, so head coach Rick Carlisle subbed Dwight Powell into the starting five for Maxi Kleber.
With Kleber in the game, Kristaps Porzingis is forced to play the role of setting a strong presence in the paint to keep the defense off balance when chasing shooters off of the three-point line.
Swap him out for Dwight Powell, a player who’s entire game is based around the energy and hustle that Carlisle is looking to inject into the team’s mindset, and KP is now free to roam the arc while Powell dives to the rim and crashes the glass.
Powell is by no means a better or more important player to the roster than Kleber, but the overlap in Kleber and KP’s respective skillsets makes for an almost awkward fit when both players do their damage in the pick-and-pop instead of hard rim-runs.
If Kleber can still make an impact off the bench and follow in the footsteps of fellow reshuffled teammate Tim Hardaway Jr., the Mavs may have the right offensive balance to keep shooters open on the wings while putting pressure on the paint.
With only 11 minutes played for Powell, Kleber would have still gotten close to his usual allotment of court time if not for suffering a bone bruise on his back after taking a charge.
Early foul trouble overshadows defensive woes
The defensive execution for the Mavs was not a pretty sight tonight as Jerami Grant had his way in the first quarter, shooting 6/8 from the field and 2/4 from three, but quickly found his way to the bench after picking up his third foul halfway through the second quarter.
Misfortune struck again for Grant in the third quarter as he picked up his fourth foul with hardly 30 seconds gone by.
Dallas by no means put on a good defensive performance, but were merely saved by Grant’s penchant for whacking players in the paint.
Grant was held scoreless in almost two and a half quarters of the game but still managed to finish with 26 points with two rebounds and assists a piece in only 27 minutes on 9/16 shooting from the field and 3/6 from deep.
15 points in the first quarter and 11 in the fourth, imagine if he even played in the third quarter…
The Pistons sit at 25th in offensive rating on the season, scoring an average of 107.7 points per game, well under their output tonight.
The Mavs sit at eighth in the league in opponent’s points per game, giving up 110.2, but haven’t held an opposing team under that mark since April 5 in a 111-103 win over the Utah Jazz.
For the Mavs to make a real move in the standings to avoid the play-in scenario, team-defense and energy will need to be the fuel for their success.
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