It’s a Make or Miss League: 3 Makes and Misses as Detroit Falls Hard to the Mavericks in Mexico City

It was another disappointing night at the office for the Detroit Pistons as they faced off against the Dallas Mavericks. Detroit was competitive in the first half, but after halftime, they lost their grip on the game and allowed the Mavericks to pull away from them in front of a neutral home crowd in Mexico City Mexico. So as we usually do after every game, here are POP’s 3 Makes and Misses from tonight’s game.

1st Make: Drummond’s Dominant First-Half

The Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond was an absolute problem in the first half of the game. By halftime he already had accumulated 20 points and 9 rebounds and was leading his team in both categories throughout the rest of the game.

He made the Dallas Mavericks feel his presence down low in the paint, constantly being around the basket for putbacks and a couple of go-to post moves. Going up against a more than formattable opponent at the center position in NBA All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, Drummond took it hard to Porzingis early. Clearly utilizing his obvious strength and size advantage against the slenderer Porzingis.

But the offense wasn’t the only place where Dre was earning his keep—he also got it done on the defensive end. Not just by being the dominant rebounder that he is, but also by playing the passing lanes and keeping his hands active. In the first quarter he swiped away a pass at the top of the perimeter which lead to a fastbreak dunk and a loud roar of cheers from the international home crowd in Mexico City. Drummond finished with 3 steals total.

1st Miss: Dallas’ Length Caused Problems for the Pistons

The Dallas Mavericks appeared to be having a block party in Mexico City tonight. They were all over the Pistons, sending their shots back to where they came from. The Pistons just seemed unable to escape Dallas’ length and size on offense.

Dallas had 5 blocks total for the night. Even though that isn’t a lot of blocks, it felt like a lot when watching the game and watching Porzingis return shots back at the rim and leading the game with 3 blocks. Powell who stands at 6’10” and Porzingis who is well over 7-foot, wreaked havoc with their long arms and made life difficult down low in the paint for Detroit—they were altering shots on not only on the guards but the Piston’s big men as well.

With young, long and athletic big men like Powell and Porzingis, Dallas was able to control the paint and if not stopped, seemed to keep the Pistons at bay from attacking the cup. They protected the paint and Detroit couldn’t find an answer from Dallas’ defense that stymied their offense.

2nd Make: The Bench Keep Detroit in the Game

Thank God for the Pistons’ bench, for without them, the final score of the game would be a lot bigger than it actually was. Dallas’ biggest lead of the game was 24 points, but in the middle of the third quarter, the bench brigade picked up the slack that was left by the starting unit.

Lead by Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, and Marcus Morris, the bench cut the lead down to 10 points in the third quarter.

Rose was his usual efficient-self, leading the bench players with 19 points, shooting 7-14 from the field and drilling 5 three-pointers, finishing the game with a 50% three-point shooting percentage. When the Pistons desperately needed a bucket, he was able to break down the Maverick’s defense and get to the basket when Dallas played him tight, and when they would sag off of him and dare him to shoot, he would make them pay by making a three-pointer. He also added 4 assists and 2 steals.

Christian Wood also showed out in limited minutes (AGAIN), which has become the norm for him the whole season. In 14 minutes, Wood was perfect from the field shooting 4-for-4, and grabbing 8 rebounds and scoring 10 total points. He hustled and battled hard against the Mavericks’ bigs in the paint and wasn’t afraid to make some spectacular plays and added more victims to his growing list of posterizing dunks. Markieff Morris was almost perfect shooting the ball, as he finished with 16 points, shooting 6-for-8 and hitting 3 out of his 5 attempts from three. He did squander an opportunity to cut Dallas’ lead to 8 points towards the end of the third quarter, after being fouled on a three-point shot, but only making 1 out of 3 free-throw attempts.

2nd Miss: Bad Night from Griffin and Kennard

Even though the bench did help pick up the slack left by the starting lineup, the team could’ve seriously used the services of Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard—two of the four leading scorers on the team.

Griffin just couldn’t seem to find a rhythm tonight. He shot 3-for-16, and 1-for-10 from three, ending the game with just 10 points. Whether it was the higher altitude of the city of Mexico City or the defense being applied by the Mavericks, Griffin just couldn’t connect on most of his shots. As Dallas started to up their lead into the twenties, you could seriously see the frustration build and his face and he started to complain more and more to the refs about missed calls. Hopefully, he can pick himself up by the next game, against the Houston Rockets.

Kennard seemed to fall victim to the similar woes that plagued Griffin. He went 3-for-13 from the field and shot 2-for-8 from three. With the defense hounding Kennard on the perimeter, Kennard just couldn’t seem to get a good shot off to help gain confidence and establish a flow. He finished the game with 8 points and 4 assists.   

3rd Make: The Pistons Could’ve Won This Game

Even though at one point the Dallas Mavericks lead the Pistons by 24 points, Detroit should find some small solace that they were able to hang with this team and at times find themselves leading the game and asserting some type of control over the game.

Based on the team stats of both teams, their numbers are almost identical.

Dallas recorded 25 assists; Detroit’s had 23 assists. Dallas shot 16-for-44 from three, for a 36.4% shooting percentage, Detroit shot 15-for-42 for a 35.7% three-point shooting percentage.

Are you are starting to read between the lines?

Detroit wasn’t too far removed from this game. Detroit didn’t commit too many turnovers, recording just 8 to Dallas’ 11 turnovers, and also besting them in steals, 8 to 2. The only crucial stat-line that killed the Pistons was their disparity in rebounding, as the Mavericks grabbed 52 rebounds to Detroit’s 34 boards.

If the Pistons had more scoring help from some of their starters and been more aggressive on the boards, they could’ve won this game. If they can learn from this game, they can hopefully apply those lessons in their next road game in Houston.

3rd Miss: Luka Went LUKA!!!

The main gameplan was to not allow Luka Doncic to control the game with his passing or scoring…unfortunately that memo didn’t reach the Pistons or Doncic for that matter. Doncic went on a complete tear and shook off his sluggish start to the game and finished with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Doncic recorded yet another triple-double. He already is close to averaging a triple-double for the season as he is currently averaging a split stat-line of 30/9.8/9.2, and is seriously in contention for regular-season MVP.

His performance was stellar in front of an international crowd that constantly chanted M-V-P almost every time he stepped to the free-throw line. His style of play made it seem that he wasn’t performing in front of thousands of people but rather a blacktop court in the streets as he utilized his uncanny passing ability to find teammates for highlight plays, or using his skillful dribbling to score off dribble drives or stepback jump shots. Even though the Pistons also allowed Seth Curry to score 30 points, it was still Luka Doncic that drove the car that the rest of his teammates were passengers in.

Doncic is arguably having the best season of anyone in the league, so the Pistons shouldn’t feel totally defeated based on tonight’s performance…but it would’ve been nice if they could’ve at least somewhat contained the 20-year-old MVP candidate.  

Featured Image: Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

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