It was a “hold your breath” game for tank advocates, but the young Detroit Pistons made a bunch of predictable errors with the game on the line and a lineup full of youth, and the Dallas Mavericks took advantage for a 115-105 win.
Dallas came to Little Caesars Arena in a classic late-season game where both sides were resting up as much as possible. The Pistons sat Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Wayne Ellington and Cory Joseph while Luka Doncic rested for Dallas.
Without Doncic, the Mavericks searched for offensive creation and found it in the form of Tim Hardaway, Jr. The University of Michigan product scored a career-high 42 points while shooting 6-of-10 from deep and made several big buckets down the stretch to lead Dallas to victory.
The game was competitive throughout.
Dallas found most of its success along the perimeter while Detroit controlled the paint surprisingly well. The game was in question for basically four full quarters, but the Mavericks took a late four-point lead after Hardaway, Jr. made his final three of the night with just over a minute to go.
Down four, Killian Hayes got called for an offensive foul for hooking his defender, but he arguably was fouled prior. Then Detroit over-committed to Hardaway, Jr. as the screener opening up a huge driving lane for Jalen Brunson to ice the game up six with less than 40 seconds left.
Hardaway, Jr. was not the only career-high of the night.
Isaiah Stewart scored a season-best 20 points, making seven of his nine attempts inside the arc and adding two deep balls. He was his usual force in the paint, where he dominated Kristaps Porzingis on both ends of the floor near the rim. No play was more impressive than this stuff on an unimpeded roll to the rim:
Isaiah Stewart told Kristaps Porzingis to get out of his house pic.twitter.com/V89PwKG69p— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) April 30, 2021
Oh, and he also blocked a shot from Boban Marjanovic.
Stewart continued to showcase his offensive game when getting the ball in or near the paint. Even when he was led into traffic, he found ways to get clean looks at the rim and converted at a high rate.
His starting frontcourt partner, Sekou Doumbouya, played one of his best games of the year. The second-year Piston scored 14 points on 10 shots despite a poor shooting night from behind the arc. His higher than usual output was a product of being active off the ball and finding ways to get to the paint and the charity stripe.
Saddiq Bey added 18 points. Frank Jackson added 20 of his own. And Killian Hayes dished out 11 helpers.
At the end of the day, the young Pistons weren’t able to seal the deal. But they continue to show superior effort and loads of potential.