AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Jose Barea scored 29 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 19 as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Detroit Pistons 98-89 on Friday night.
The win moved Dallas a half-game ahead of Utah for seventh place in the Western Conference, with the Jazz playing later Friday.
Even with the loss, Detroit leads eighth-place Indiana by a half-game and ninth-place Chicago by 1 1/2 games in the East. The Pistons visit the Bulls on Saturday.
Morris scored 16 points in the first quarter, but Detroit’s reserves struggled at the start of the second. Dallas put up the first 15 points of the quarter to take a 40-25 lead, forcing Stan Van Gundy to rush his starters back onto the floor.
They stopped the surge, but Dallas still had a 51-36 lead at the half. Morris had 22 for Detroit, but Barea had 19 points for the Mavericks while his opposing point guard, Reggie Jackson, was 0 for 7 with four turnovers.
Van Gundy switched defensive stopper Kentavious Caldwell-Pope onto Barea, and Detroit got back into the game. Jackson scored seven points in the first six minutes of the third, and Morris’ sixth 3-pointer tied the score at 58.
Dallas, though, regained control as soon as Van Gundy put in his reserves. They led 71-61 at the end of the third, but couldn’t put the Pistons away.
Stanley Johnson and Caldwell-Pope hit back-to-back 3s to make it 77-73 with 8:19 left, but Van Gundy had to pull Drummond because of intentional fouls with 4:33 left.
With Caldwell-Pope giving up 7 inches to guard the 7-foot Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews got to the line for a three-point play and an eight-point lead. After Morris missed, two free throws by Devin Harris made it 95-85 with 2:05 to play.
Mavericks: With Deron Williams (abdominal strain) and Raymond Felton (groin strain) both sidelined, Harris was the only traditional guard on the Dallas bench. … Charlie Villanueva, who was on the floor for the Mavericks’ 15-0 run, was booed by Pistons fans every time he touched the ball. He played five seasons for Detroit.
Pistons: Drummond missed eight of his first 10 free throws, and was pulled in both the third and fourth quarters when the Mavericks began to intentionally foul.