DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks set a season high for points, but their work on the defensive end was a major factor in ending
the Detroit Pistons' bid to remain the NBA's lone unbeaten team.
Josh Howard scored 26 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 23 as the Mavericks raced to a 26-point first-quarter lead and handed the Pistons their first loss of the season, 119-82 on Saturday night.
"We concentrated more on the defensive end and rebounding the ball," Howard said after the Mavericks held the Pistons to 41 percent shooting from the field. "We wanted to make sure they got one shot and that was it."
Dallas got off to a blazing start with its highest-scoring quarter of the season. The Mavericks made 17 of their first 21 shots (81 percent) to build a 40-16 lead after the opening period.
"We felt if we came out and gave it all we had for the first two or three quarters, we could get out to a lead," Dallas guard Jason Terry said. "It definitely came down to us having more energy than they did."
The Pistons were 5-for-19 from the field in their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season.
"We had some pretty good individual performances but defensively we really competed against a championship-caliber team," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said.
The Pistons, the NBA's last unbeaten team, opened the season with eight wins to match the second-best start in franchise history -- trailing only the 9-0 mark set in 1970-71.
Erick Dampier, scoreless in the previous two games, added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Mavericks, who held a 47-26 rebounding edge.
Marquis Daniels had 15 points and six assists and Devin Harris
added 14 points for Dallas, which improved to 4-0 at home and 7-2 overall.
Richard Hamilton had 18 points to lead Detroit, which had been limiting opponents to a league-low 87 points per game. However, the Pistons seemed weary from a road back-to-back situation, coming off a 78-70 win at Houston on Friday night.
"They knew we played a tough game on the road," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "They jumped on things and played aggressive. We thought we would have an opportunity to kind of play our way into the game but they beat us every which way you could get beat."
The Mavericks' last game was at home on Thursday night -- an 87-78 victory over the winless Atlanta Hawks.
Dallas scored only 11 points in the first quarter against Atlanta and Johnson wanted a better early effort from his team.
"We weren't going to be as bad as we were the last game," Johnson said. "Scoring 11 points in the first quarter is pretty deflating."
The Mavericks, ahead by as many as 26 five times in the first half, had a 58-37 lead at halftime.
Detroit never made a serious second-half run as the Pistons were only able to get as close as 18 in the final 24 minutes. The Mavericks carried a 90-62 edge into the last quarter.
Dallas assistant coach Del Harris was ejected with 6:43 left in the first quarter for arguing an officiating decision, but the disruption didn't affect the Mavericks.
Harris came onto the court to protest a foul call by referee Michael Smith against Daniels. Smith ruled that Detroit's Chauncey Billups was shooting on the play and Billups was awarded two free throws. Harris and Johnson contended that it was a non-shooting foul.
Johnson was also assessed a technical foul on the play, and Billups converted four free throws.
The Mavericks were without guards Doug Christie (ankle) and Jerry Stackhouse (knee) and forward Keith Van Horn (sprained finger). ... The Pistons also started 8-0 in 1988-89 en route to the first of their two straight NBA titles. ... Detroit hadn't given up 40 points in a quarter since Nov. 30, 1999, at San Antonio. ...Dallas has won 13 straight regular-season home games. ... The most points the Pistons allowed last season was 117 against Denver on Nov. 11, 2004.