AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — J.J. Barea had two big reasons to celebrate.
He became the parent of a baby daughter on Thursday, then played one of the best games of his 10-year NBA career on Friday.
Barea poured in 29 points and the Dallas Mavericks won their third straight game by cooling off the Detroit Pistons 98-89 at The Palace.
He flew to Michigan with team owner Mark Cuban earlier in the day after witnessing the birth of Paulina Barea Ortiz.
“It’s been a great two days,” the diminutive point guard said.
Barea made 13 of 23 field goal tries while coming up three points shy of his career high.
“He’s got to be really happy,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “There was probably a little inspiration from seeing his daughter come into the world.”
Barea scored 19 first-half points to give the Mavericks a double-digit lead. Following a scoreless third, Barea delivered 10 fourth-quarter points to help Dallas improve its playoff position.
“I missed some shots during the third quarter and Coach subbed me out. I think it was a great sub,” said Barea, who is averaging 24.3 points during the winning streak. “I got my stuff together there on the bench and came out and made some open shots. They set some double pick-and-rolls for me up top and that helped me out.”
Dirk Nowitzki supplied 19 points for Dallas (38-38), which
began the night tied for seventh place in the Western Conference standings. Wesley Matthews had 17 points and Devin Harris chipped in 13 for the Mavericks.
“We pretty much know we’ve got to get above .500 to get into the playoffs,” Carlisle said. “Our guys know that. They came in here with an attitude of desperation and intensity and just finding a way. That’s what it’s got to be about.”
Marcus Morris’ season-high 31 points and 12 rebounds led the Pistons (40-36), who won six of their last seven games. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 15 points, Tobias Harris added 14 points and Reggie Jackson chipped in 11 points but shot 3-for-15 from the field.
Jackson has been in an offensive funk, failing to reach the 20-point mark for the 10th consecutive game.
“I thought he was trying to make plays, but I didn’t think his decision-making was real good,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It was a rough night.”
Van Gundy’s team shot 38.3 percent and got only six points from its bench.
“We’re at our best when we’re running in transition and moving the ball around,” said Detroit center Andre Drummond, who posted his 63rd double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds. “When we start getting timid and start taking really bad shots and looking for one-pass shots, that’s when things start to get a little stagnant.”
The Pistons erased the Mavs’ 15-point halftime lead in just over seven minutes. Detroit pulled even at 58-all with an 11-0 outburst, including 3-pointers from Jackson, Harris and Morris.
Dallas then finished the quarter with a 13-3 run, which included two Nowitzki jumpers and a pair of Matthews 3-pointers.
Early in the fourth, Morris’ step-back jumper completed an 11-2 Pistons outburst to cut the Mavs’ advantage to 77-75. Barea rescued Dallas by scoring eight of its next nine points to make it 86-77.
The Pistons got as close as four but a Matthews three-point play gave Dallas a 93-85 lead with 2:38 remaining. Detroit couldn’t mount another comeback.
Barea lit up the Pistons’ backcourt for 19 first-half points as the Mavericks established a 51-36 halftime lead.
Barea went 9-for-11 from the field and sparked a 15-0 run at the start of the second quarter with eight points.
Detroit was held to 11 second-quarter points, its lowest output in any quarter this season.