for this game

Nowitzki leads as Mavericks crush Pistons

Jan 24, 2009 - 4:22 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The up and down Dallas Mavericks were at one of their peaks on Friday.

The Mavericks shot a season-high 54.9 percent and bounced back from their 34-point defeat at Milwaukee on Wednesday to hand the Detroit Pistons a 112-91 loss.

The victory was only the third in the last eight games for Dallas.

"We've had some inconsistency, but those of us who have been here for four months see areas of improvement," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We just have to build on games like this and keep working on the things that rear their ugly head sometimes.

"Our guys were ready to play. The Milwaukee game hurt our pride and we wanted to get back out. We played one of our better games and I thought Jason Kidd and Dirk (Nowitzki) really set the tone for the team."

Nowitzki led the way for the Mavericks with 26 points, Josh Howard added 22 and Brandon Bass came off the bench to score 18 points. Kidd finished with 11 points and 10 assists.

"I liked how the team responded tonight," Nowitzki said. "We felt embarrassed by our defensive effort the other night (when Milwaukee scored 133 points). That's unacceptable, no matter who you're playing.

"It was a disappointing loss the other day but a big win tonight. We need that confidence when we go to Boston on Sunday to play the world champions. We're ninth in the West right now, so every win is big for us."

Richard Hamilton, coming off the bench for the second straight game, led Detroit with 17 points.

Dallas shot 66 percent from the field in the first half and held a 63-51 lead at the break as Howard scored 15 points and Nowitzki and Jason Terry added 14 apiece.

Dallas hit 13-of-15 shots during one first-half stretch. The hot streak ended with the Mavericks ahead 46-36.

Detroit, which shot 51 percent in the half, answered with an 11-3 run to cut the Dallas lead to 49-47 with 3:46 left. The Mavericks finished the half with a 14-4 spurt.

"Detroit is a great basketball team, especially at home, so it was important for us to make things happen and kind of run away with the game," Nowitzki said.

Dallas' shooting didn't surprise Detroit coach Michael Curry.

"We knew coming in that this was an explosive team," Curry said. "Their record looks deceiving because Josh Howard has been out for 17 games. They came off a tough loss in Milwaukee. We made mistakes coverage-wise early, and they got their scorers - the guys we wanted to lock into - making shots. It snowballed from there."

Curry said the Dallas run at the end of the first half was critical.

"We had bad offensive and defensive possessions, they went on that run and kind of knocked the wind out of us," Curry said.

Turnovers hurt the Pistons in the first half, committing 12 that led to 14 Dallas points. Detroit had only 10 turnovers in its victory over Toronto on Wednesday.

"Everyone was clicking tonight," Howard said. "Guys got to their spots and knocked down shots. Then on the defensive end, we were able to hold those guys to one shot and we were able to get back to our offense.

"That last game was motivation for us tonight. I've never been beat that bad in my whole basketball career, so to come back like this is pretty good."

Detroit's Allen Iverson didn't think that the Pistons lacked intensity after beating Toronto handily.

"We just got outplayed tonight on both ends of the floor," Iverson said.

Dallas continued its torrid pace in the second half. After consecutive 3-point baskets by Nowitzki and Howard, the Mavericks had a 78-60 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. The quarter ended with the Mavericks ahead 90-72.

Dallas opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run to open its biggest lead of the game, 99-74 with 9:09 to go.

The Mavericks' best shooting night prior to Friday was 53.1 percent against San Antonio on November 4 - the fourth game of the season.