Of course, the Detroit Pistons are making a lot of teams look good these days.
Nowitzki scored 18 points, and the Mavericks reached the .500 mark by routing Detroit 100-86 on Tuesday night. Dallas started its NBA title defense slowly, losing four of its first five games, but the Mavericks have bounced back.
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"We've had some rough ones, but tonight was a good one all around," Marion said. "Everybody was contributing, helping each other."
Will Bynum scored 20 points for Detroit. The Pistons (2-8) have lost five straight games, and this was actually the least lopsided of the bunch thanks to a late run.
The Mavericks, playing without injured point guard Jason Kidd, went on runs of 13-0 in the first quarter and 16-0 in the third.
Nowitzki shot 5 of 22 over his previous two games, but he broke out of that slump against the Pistons, going 9 of 10. He made all six attempts from the field in the first half, and Dallas shot 55 percent for the game.
"It's a road win that we haven't had yet, so that's really important to us," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Momentum has been elusive for us, so we respect how tough it is competitively in this league right now, but our goal is to build on this."
The Mavericks made their first eight shots and took a 19-4 lead on a layup by Marion. They finally missed when Delonte West lost control of the ball while going for a one-handed dunk on a fast break. The score was 23-9 at that point.
"As I've said, this process may be very painful," said Lawrence Frank, the new coach of the rebuilding Pistons. "It doesn't get better just because you want it to get better. I hope we are all frustrated, because when you are, you have two options. The first is to work harder and understand what you want to do. The second choice isn't an option."
Kidd missed his second consecutive game with a lower back problem. Detroit's Rodney Stuckey (groin) and Charlie Villanueva (right ankle) didn't play either. Stuckey hasn't played since last Wednesday, which was the start of this dreadful stretch for the Pistons.
Detroit's previous defeats in this streak were by 16, 23, 23 and 24. No NBA team has lost four straight games by at least 23 points, according to STATS, LLC. The last team to lose five in a row by at least 16 was the Washington Bullets, who dropped six in a row by at least that margin in March 1994.
The Pistons narrowly avoided that distinction by scoring the game's final 12 points.
"Everyone wants a baby, but few people want to go through the pregnancy," Frank said. "This is going to be hard."
Detroit misses Stuckey's ability to penetrate on offense. Rookie Brandon Knight started at point guard Tuesday, but he had six of the Pistons' 20 turnovers.
West had six points, 10 assists and five steals for Dallas.
"We would love to be 10-0 right now," West said. "It's a long season and you can't get too high or too low on wins and losses until the losses start to hurt you once you get in the playoffs."
- The Pistons had only two rebounds in the first quarter, when the Mavericks shot 10 of 14.
- Nowitzki is now 19 points short of 23,000.
- Yi Jianlian, recalled from the NBA Development League on Monday, played 5:24 for Dallas. He had a foul and a rebound.