Doncic goes off for 30; Pistons run out of gas in 127-117 loss to Mavericks

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

In their last game against the Dallas Mavericks, the Pistons didn’t have an answer for Luka Doncic, who had 41 points and a triple-double.

Not much has changed; they still don’t have an answer for him.

Doncic didn’t quite have a triple-double, but he proved tough to defend, leading the Mavericks to a 127-117 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena. The Pistons lost the first game of their two-game Texas road trip, with a back-to-back at San Antonio on Thursday.

Doncic finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and Jalen Brunson provided a spark off the bench with 20 points, including 13 in the second quarter, when the Mavericks grabbed the lead and began to pull away.

The Pistons (18-41) stayed within single digits until the final minutes but Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (19 points and seven rebounds) helped the Mavs pull away in the fourth quarter.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, center, goes up for a shot as Detroit Pistons' Hamidou Diallo, left, and Isaiah Stewart (28) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

“We had some untimely turnovers and we were kind of discombobulated,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We missed some great shots against the zone, just enough to give them an opportunity to go down to the other end and score.”

Doncic had a tip-in and a free-throw in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter that was part of a 9-2 run that pushed a 10-point lead. Porzingis had five points in the quarter and helped get the stops they needed to close out the game.

Jerami Grant had 26 points and Cory Joseph had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists. Mason Plumlee went 4-for-4 from the field and finished with 13 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out.

Grant had a big start to the game, with 15 points in the first quarter, but he was slowed by foul trouble and had to sit for most of the second and third quarters. He had his third foul in the second quarter and his fourth before he broke a sweat in the second half.

Detroit Pistons guard Josh Jackson (20) shoots as Dallas Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis (6) and forward Dorian Finney-Smith, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

"He had it going. He was one guy who had it going when he was getting to the hole and having his rhythm,” Casey said. “When he got in foul trouble, we had to get him out. It took us out a little bit because he was our go-to guy in that stretch.”

Grant made three free throws to start the period, but the Mavericks started pulling away during that stretch, with Doncic leading the way with six points in the first 4½ minutes. Joseph had eight points and helped the Pistons stay close.

Wayne Ellington’s 3-pointer with 26.2 seconds left in the third cut the lead to 10 heading to the fourth period but the Mavs started with a big run and gave themselves some breathing room.

The Pistons were within 115-107 with 2:43 remaining after a three-point play by Plumlee, but the Mavericks answered with a pair of 3-pointers by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith to push the lead to 12.

“This team is one of the best offensive teams as far as shooting the ball and ball-handling,” Casey said. “Doncic is one of the best guards with his one-on-one play creating shots and he makes tough shots. Against him, there’s very small room for error. If you make a mistake defensively, they’ll make you pay.”