Final: Raptors 103, Mavs 99
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Raptors roared out to a 14-2 lead and took a 32-16 advantage into the second quarter. Toronto only got the ball into the paint via drive or pass on 8 possessions in the opening frame, an extremely low number. Most of the team’s points — 22, to be exact — came when the ball didn’t even enter the paint. When teams get hot, they get extremely hot, but if Dallas can keep opponents out of the paint like that then it’s going to be hard to complain about the defense on most nights.
The Mavericks didn’t score a fast break point in the first half, one of the weirder stats you’ll see in a game. Part of the problem, actually, was that even though Toronto committed 10 turnovers in the opening half, most of them were dead-ball turnovers (throwing passes out of bounds, losing control of the ball out of play, double-dribbles, traveling, etc.). The Mavs didn’t have many chances to push the ball the other way, forcing only 3 deflections in the first two quarters.
Dirk Nowitzki got off to a bit of a slow start, but he heated up in the second half, leading several Mavs pushes to bring the team back into the game. Nowitzki finished the game with 20 points, leaving him just 10 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Pretty cool stuff.
You hate to see it due to the circumstances, but Rick Carlisle brought in his reserves late in the fourth quarter after the Raptors had taken a large lead with just a few minutes left. The unit of J.J. Barea, John Jenkins, Justin Anderson, Charlie Villanueva, and Jeremy Evans weren’t going to go down quietly, however, and they mounted a huge run to make things competitive once again, inexplicably reducing the deficit to as low as 2. The group was +12 as a five-man unit in the game, according to the Mavs analytics team. Those guys put together an unbelievable run in practically no time at all, which will certainly earn them the praise and respect of their coach and the rest of the locker room.
With Devin Harris out due to injury, Raymond Felton was the Mavs’ best defensive choice to use against Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, an All-Star-caliber point guard. Felton did an excellent job against Lowry all night, forcing him into tough shots and taking away anything easy — Felton frequently even guarded him all 94 feet as Lowry brought the ball up the floor. When you make a team work hard, especially one dealing with as many injuries Toronto, generally you’ll see the payoff somewhere. The Raps committed a lot of small mistakes that led to turnovers or botched possessions, and the Mavs were able to take advantage of many of them.
In a pretty surprising coaching move, Rick Carlisle inserted JaVale McGee into the lineup just over three minutes into the game. The Mavs were in the midst of a slow start, especially on the defensive glass, allowing 5 Raptors second-chance points in the opening minutes. Replacing Zaza Pachulia, McGee immediately won two defensive rebounding battles, intimidated DeMar DeRozan into a jump pass that ended up out of bounds, and threw down a dunk on the offensive end. McGee brings a whole new dimension to this Mavs team, bringing in an element of athleticism that has been missing at the center spot — obviously with no disrespect to Pachulia, who’s been incredible for Dallas this season. The minutes distribution between those two moving forward will be very interesting to follow, but it will likely depend most of all on the opponent.
Talk about a game of runs. The Raptors opened up ahead 14-2, then Dallas scored 8 straight, then the Raptors went up 32-14, and then before you know it the Mavs had scored 13 consecutive points. Finally, Toronto outscored Dallas 10-2 just before halftime to assume a 15-point lead. Basketball is an interesting sport. You never know what’s going to happen, but here’s the biggest thing to keep in mind: A game is never over as long as there’s time on the clock, especially when things seem like they’re getting out of hand in only the first or second quarter.
The Mavs (15-13) play the Brooklyn Nets (8-20) Tuesday at Barclays Center. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. Central.