Dallas at Detroit 11-15-09

November 15, 2009


Short-handed for most of the first three weeks of the season, the Detroit Pistons have taken advantage of a soft schedule to win three straight. Their ability to overcome their injury problems will likely face a stiffer challenge with the Dallas Mavericks coming to town. Likely without two of their top players again, the Pistons look to extend their streak Sunday night against the Mavericks, winners of four of the teams’ last five meetings.

Detroit (5-4) has played most of the season without Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back) and dropped four of its first six with its two longest-tenured players sidelined. The Pistons, though, have rebounded with three consecutive victories by taking advantage of matchups with struggling Philadelphia, Charlotte and Washington. Offseason acquisitions Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva have been integral to Detroit’s recent success. Gordon is averaging 24.7 points and shooting 51.8 percent from the field during the winning streak, and Villanueva is averaging 23.7 points and shooting 60.0 percent over that same stretch. Gordon had 29 points and Villanueva added 25 as the Pistons beat the Wizards 106-103 on Saturday after trailing 95-89 with 5:04 to play.

Regardless, the Pistons could use a scoring boost from someone to keep up with the Mavericks (6-3). Dallas has won four of the teams’ last five meetings, shooting 54.5 percent from the field in those victories, which have come by an average of 10.8 points. The Mavericks have also won six of 10 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Dirk Nowitzki averaged 28.0 points and shot 60.0 percent from the field as Dallas swept the two-game season series with the Pistons in 2008-09. Nowitzki was held to five points in a quiet first half Friday. After getting whistled for a technical foul following arguments with two Minnesota players five minutes into the third quarter, however, Nowitzki scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots in the next seven minutes to put Dallas in control en route to the 89-77 win.

Even if Nowitzki can replicate that performance, the Pistons have to feel good about their newcomers’ recent history against the Mavericks. Gordon averaged 31.5 points and shot 53.8 percent in two games against Dallas last season, while playing for Chicago. Villanueva, with Milwaukee at the time, averaged 28.5 points and shot 56.4 percent in two games. Dallas Offense is very powerful, take the road team here.

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