The Dallas Mavericks will reach the midway point of a five-game homestand on Wednesday night, seeking their first win of the stretch when they play the Eastern Conference's last-place Detroit Pistons.
Dallas (30-26) dropped its fourth in its past five games with a 121-107 decision Sunday againstSacramento.
The Mavericks began their current homestand on Friday against New York looking to press Portland for the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference, the last seed to avoid the play-in tournament. But a 117-109 Dallas loss to open its longest remaining series of games at home and falling to the sputtering Kings has put Dallas two games behind the Trail Blazers.
"There's been some soul-searching over the last five games," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in his postgame press conference Sunday. "We've got to get ourselves back on track, just from a process standpoint. Forget about wins and losses -- we've got to win games, that's our job, is to win games. But the process of how we do it is really important."
Carlisle added the process is on "both ends of the floor." Dallas has particularly struggled defensively over the past five games, allowing an average of 116.6 points per game.
Detroit (18-40) comes into Dallas as one of the NBA's lowest-scoring offenses, ranked No. 25 at 107.6 points per game. The Pistons have won two of their past three, however, and held Oklahoma City and Cleveland to 104 and 105 points in those wins on Friday and Monday, respectively.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey is playing a young corps down the stretch. A pair of rookies took the lead in Detroit's 109-105 defeat of the Cavaliers on Monday, with Saddiq Bey scoring 20 points and Isaiah Stewart posting a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds, with three blocked shots.
"He's one of the hardest-working guys I've met. He is just one of those guys [who] just doesn't stop," Tyler Cook said of Stewart in Monday's postgame press conference. "He works relentlessly and tirelessly on the glass."
A third Pistons rookie, Killian Hayes, had 12 points and nine assists in that game.
Detroit's youth movement stepped up amid a rash of injuries. Jerami Grant, the Pistons' leading scorer at 22.4 points per game, is day-to-day with a quadriceps injury.
Sekou Doumbouya (concussion) and Cory Joseph (illness) also are day-to-day, while Dennis Smith Jr. (knee) and Rodney McGruder (elbow) joined them on the sideline.
Dallas is without Tyrell Terry for personal reasons.
Mavericks leading scorer Luka Doncic, averaging 28.6 points per game, scored 37 in the loss to Sacramento. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 22 points, and Jalen Brunson added 20 off the bench, but no other Mavericks scored in double figures.
"All five guys got to start helping each other get better shots," Finney-Smith said in response to Dallas' offensive woes in his postgame press conference Sunday.
Although Doncic ranks sixth in the NBA at 8.7 assists per game, the Mavericks are 27th as a team at 22.3.
--Field Level Media