AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Amir Johnson knows he isn't exactly the Detroit Pistons' first option.
After all, he's the new guy in a group that includes stars Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace.
But the 21-year-old forward is learning that he does have a role to play in Detroit's offense. Johnson scored 10 points in 19 minutes Thursday night, helping the Pistons beat the Dallas Mavericks 85-81.
"The coaches have been getting on me to shoot more, and I finally got the courage to do it," said Johnson, who finished 4-for-8 from the floor. "They left me wide open tonight, and I knocked some down."
Normally a post player, he even hit three outside jumpers.
"I know I can shoot," Johnson said. "I've just always focused on doing all of the little things."
Johnson missed his first two shots, but Pistons coach Michael Curry left him on the floor.
"I'm not going to reward guys just for scoring the basketball," Curry said. "I'm sure Amir was waiting to be jacked out of the game, but he was doing everything we wanted him to do, so he stayed in."
Detroit (5-1) struggled for three quarters, but outscored the Mavericks (3-2) 36-19 in the final 12 minutes. Curry played his starters in the fourth against Dallas' reserves, but didn't think that took anything away from the win.
"We played the Dallas Mavericks tonight. I can't control which players they use," Curry said. "No one said anything about them going ahead against our reserves early. We played ours early and they played their reserves when they wanted to play them."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle wasn't concerned about the lopsided fourth quarter.
"Our first group did a lot of good things, but we decided not to go back to that group down the stretch," the former Pistons coach said. "Detroit had a lot of their main guys in there and they were able to squeeze us enough to get the game. They did a good job with it."
Hamilton led Detroit with 17 points, and Billups added 16 and seven assists.
"We couldn't hit any shots, but our defense was solid," said Billups, who put Detroit ahead for good with a jumper with 1:19 left. "When the starters got back in there in the end, we made it a ball game."
Dirk Nowitzki had 15 points for Dallas in 23 minutes, and Brandon Bass added 11 points and nine rebounds. Jason Kidd had 11 points, but turned the ball over six times.
"I'm not worried about that," Carlisle said. "He'll be OK. There are times when he probes and explores things, but he'll play the next three games and he'll be better."