Smith’s return sparks Mavericks past Pistons
DALLAS — The return of speedy point guard Dennis Smith Jr. sparked the Mavericks’ offense into high gear, and Dallas earned a 110-93 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.
Smith missed the previous six games with a hip strain, but he quickly showed he was feeling just fine with several dazzling moves in the first half. He ignited Dallas to a 43-point second quarter — its highest quarter of the season — and a 65-53 halftime lead. The 65 points were also a high-water mark for a half this season.
The Mavs (9-23) snapped a three-game losing skid, while the sluggish Pistons (17-14) had their three-game win streak halted.
After Detroit scored the first five points of the third quarter, it was again all Dallas. The Mavericks used an 11-0 run to go up 78-61 and then grabbed their largest lead to end the third quarter at 89-66.
Smith finished with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds in just 21 minutes as coach Rick Carlisle eased him back into action. He said sitting the last six games helped him gain a greater perspective.
“Definitely, I can just sit back and observe from first quarter to the end of the game,” Smith said. “I got a whole new perspective about it, I got to watch J.J. (Barea) a lot, Yogi (Ferrell) and Devin (Harris), and those are the good guys, so I picked up a few things from them.”
Carlisle called Smith “extremely important to us,” and used a number of adjectives to describe his return.
“Bad, great, shaky, and good,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to be tough coming off two weeks of not playing in an NBA game. I have to say, the way he helped us finish the first half was probably the difference in the game.”
Mavs forward Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 25 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 12, and Wes Matthews added 10. Yogi Ferrell contributed 11 points, nine on three 3-pointers, as he moved back to the bench with Smith’s return. J.J. Barea also had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Dallas shot 59 percent from the floor in the first half and finished the game 14 of 30 from beyond the arc.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the defensive job Dallas did on Detroit center Andre Drummond, who fought foul trouble early on and finished with just 11 points and 13 rebounds.
The Pistons were awful on the offensive end in the second half. They managed only 13 points in the third quarter and just 10 more halfway through the fourth to trail 96-76.
“For the whole game, but especially the last three quarters, you had one team (Dallas) that played with a much higher level intensity, and a much higher level of offensive energy,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It was too much for us, we could not stand up to their energy and intensity. We didn’t bring that to the game. We got dominated.”
Forward Anthony Tolliver led Detroit with 18 points. Tobias Harris with 10 points and Drummond were the only other Pistons starters to score in double figures. Stanley Johnson had 16 points and Ish Smith had 15 points off the bench.
“They just played harder than we did,” Tolliver said. “They got into us from the very beginning. Even though we were hitting shots early and made it a game, we never built a sense of urgency on the defensive end.”
NOTES: Pistons G Avery Bradley missed his third consecutive game due to a hip injury, and coach Stan Van Gundy said Bradley would be out for at least the next week. Bradley will see a specialist on groin injuries, he told the Detroit Free Press. ... Detroit won the teams’ previous three meetings in Dallas. ... Pistons F Anthony Tolliver made his second start of the season. ... Dallas is 1-7 in games played without G Dennis Smith Jr., including 1-5 in his just-completed six-game absence caused by a hip injury. ... Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki passed Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers list Monday, and with two more Wednesday, he tied Chauncey Billups (1,830) for 12th place.