The Dallas Mavericks ran out to an early 19 point lead in the second quarter, but in a manner reminiscent of how the Raptors often lose, they found a way to rip defeat from the hands of victory at the end of the game and again in overtime.
Credit the Raptors bench for finding the resolve to keep coming back when this looked like a contest of men against boys. The Mavericks had run up a 33-22 first quarter lead against sparse opposition. It wasn’t until after going scoreless for almost 4 minutes in the second quarter and the Mavericks up 41-22 that Greivis Vasquez finally ended the Dallas run with a jump shot and 2 layups as part of a 10-0 Raptors surge and Toronto controlled the rest of the quarter. The half ended with the Mavericks up 52-49.
“Their pride kicked in,” Head Coach Dwane Casey said. “They got tired of being kicked.”
The second half opened much like the first quarter except this time the Raptors kept pace with the high scoring Mavericks and after resolving nothing, it was Toronto that opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run to take an 89-81 lead with Vasquez scoring 8 points in the first 2.5 minutes. Former Raptors point guard Jose Calderon stopping Toronto’s run with his team’s next 11 points to bring the Mavericks back to within 1 point, 93-92.
In the dying moments, Calderon grabbed a defensive rebound and outleted to Shawn Marion for a 99-98 lead with 1:06 left and then assisted on a Marion jump shot with 20 seconds left for the 101-99 advantage. DeMar DeRozan, who was 3-14 shooting up to this point, finally hit a short jumper to tie the game, but he left 16 seconds for the Mavericks to play for the win. Dirk Nowitzki missed the jump shot and Brandon Wright missed the tip to send the game into overtime.
Shooting 2-3 in the overtime, DeRozan put the Raptors up 109-108 with 1:10 left in the game, however, Dallas was to have numerous chances to walk out with a victory. On their next possession, Nowitzki missed 2 shots and Calderon missed a three-pointer before Toronto got the ball back. The Raptors failed to score and Dallas had 10 seconds to put together a winning play, but Ellis missed the 10 foot jump shot and the ball bounced around until time expired.
Almost unnoticed was the Raptors recently acquired veteran John Salmons who stepped up to guard Ellis in the second half and overtime. Salmons also contributed 5 important points towards the end of the fourth quarter.
“John Salmons, the veteran play helps a guy like Terrence (Ross) to watch and learn how to play a guy like Monta (Ellis),” Casey said. “I thought that he was one of the differences in the game.”
The Mavericks starting guards, Calderon and Ellis, had huge games. Calderon with 23 points on 7 three-point baskets and 9 assists. Ellis with 21 points and 11 assists plus 4 steals. Dallas superstar forward Nowitzki finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Former Raptors All-Star Vince Carter had 0 points and 6 turnovers in 18 minutes of action.
Kyle Lowry had another impressive game for Toronto finishing with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Vasquez came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-11 shooting and was key to changing the momentum of this game. Jonas Valanciunas had the 18 point 13 rebound double-double as he took advantage of his size in the post. Amir Johnson, Terrence Ross and DeRozan had 15 points each.
Chuck Hayes, who was acquired from Sacramento in the Rudy Gay trade, played his first 2 minutes for Toronto in this game. Patrick Patterson has been taking the bulk of Tyler Hansbrough’s minutes since his arrival, although Casey continues to use at least 4 big men in his rotation since the trade.
“Greivis (Vasquez) came in and gave us a boost,” Casey said. “Patrick Patterson’s defense was huge.”
The Raptors continue their road trip on Sunday against Oklahoma City and then play on Monday in San Antonio.
The Mavericks play in Phoenix on Saturday and in Houston on Monday.