January 07, 2015

First, DeMarcus Cousins handled Dallas down low. Then, Kenneth Faried and DeAndre Jordan dominated with 20-20 performances.

The Mavericks' problems containing big men are surfacing at the wrong time as they cling to a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and if those issues persist against Andre Drummond, they could be staring down a season-worst fourth consecutive defeat.

The Detroit Pistons are in a playoff battle of their own, and they certainly hope Drummond can add to his NBA-high double-double total at the start of a crucial four-game trip Wednesday night.

Dallas (33-31) had won four of five before Cousins finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds in Sacramento's 104-101 win Thursday. Faried's 25 and 20 led lowly Denver to a 116-114 overtime victory Sunday before Jordan's 23-point, 20-rebound effort in the Los Angeles Clippers' 109-90 rout the following night.

Now the Mavericks will have to contend with Drummond, who has 53 double-doubles and leads the league in rebounding at 15.1 per game. He had 14 points and 18 boards to help Detroit (32-31) beat Portland 123-103 on Sunday.

Drummond also is averaging a league-best 5.0 offensive rebounds, which doesn't bode well for a Dallas team ranked near the bottom of the NBA in second-chance points allowed.

"Detroit is playing a similar game like (the Clippers) are, with one big guy who is a beast and spreading the floor around him," Dirk Nowitzki told the team's official website. They're really good at it as well, so it's going to be more of the same."

The Pistons actually did the Mavericks a favor by beating Portland, which is tied with Dallas for the West's sixth spot. Ninth-place Utah doesn't sit far behind in a tight race.

Sunday began a tough stretch for the Mavericks that has them playing nine straight against clubs currently sitting no lower than ninth in their respective conference.

"Through an 82-game season there's a lot of ups and downs," said Chandler Parsons, who has totaled 20 points in his last two after averaging 25.3 over his previous four. "When it gets ugly, it feels like the world is coming down on you. Right now, we've got to stick together."

The Pistons are one-half game behind Chicago for the East's final playoff spot and lost their last two road games to San Antonio and New York by a combined 29 points before beating the Trail Blazers at home.

Reggie Jackson finished with 30 points and nine assists in the victory for Detroit, which also faces Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington on its trip.

"We've got to be more consistent," coach Stan Van Gundy told the team's official website. "We have to play well in more than every other game. Every other game's not going to get it done. We've played outstanding against some very good teams this year. We've got 19 games (remaining and) we're going to have to get 15 of those."

The Pistons are hoping rookie Stanley Johnson, who will miss his seventh straight because of a right shoulder sprain, can return at some point during the trip. Reggie Bullock wasn't factoring into Van Gundy's rotation prior to Johnson's injury, but he's averaged 9.7 points while shooting 58.8 percent in extended minutes with Johnson out.

"To sit for 45, 50 games, not playing, and then play pretty well (is tough)," Van Gundy said. "You have to give guys a lot of credit."

Detroit beat the Mavericks 108-95 in the last meeting Jan. 7, 2015, to snap six-game losing streak at Dallas and in the series.

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