DALLAS, March 7 (Ticker) --
Thirteen wasn't about to become a lucky number for the luckless Toronto Raptors. So they tried a team meeting instead.
The Raptors dropped their 13th straight game, again showing very little fight in a 122-103 loss to the hot-shooting Dallas Mavericks, who got big games from their "Big Three."
Toronto is mired in its longest slide since a 13-game free fall from March 20-April 12, 1998. It went on to finish 16-66 that season, the worst record in franchise history.
This team will not be that bad, but for the last month it has looked brutal. Rarely do the Raptors -- predicted by some to reach the NBA Finals -- show any extended stretches of grit or toughness. Toronto (29-34) is 1 1/2 games behind Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
NBA TV highlights from|
Michael Finley goes in for the dunk against the Raptors in Dallas.
After the game, the Raptors kept the locker room closed for 30 minutes and held a team meeting to address some of the issues that have turned them into the league's worst team of late.
"It's tough losing that many games with the type of team that we have," forward Jerome Williams
said. "We had to meet and talk things over amongst ourselves, because we really can't rely on the coaches; we can't blame them. We've got to look at each individual in this room and really make a collective effort to go out and do our jobs. That's what we talked about and from this moment on, guys are just going to go out there and do what they have to do. And if they're not doing their jobs, it's up to the team to pull out the whipping stick, basically."
Williams admitted the team is looking for explanations for the mounting losses instead of ways to win.
"I think we just allowed ourselves too many excuses," he said. "When we go out there as players and we see that the game plan that the coaches put forth for the floor isn't working, it's up to us to communicate that. That's what we haven't done. After our meeting, I think guys will do that now."
Coach Lenny Wilkens tried to shake things up by starting Williams in place of Morris Peterson
. Williams provided some interior muscle, but the Raptors resorted to shooting jump shots in the second half, a foolish strategy against the potent Mavericks.
"In the first half, I thought we hustled, we scrambled, we got back in the game," Wilkens said. "Then we came out for the third period and our defense kind of fell apart. We didn't talk as well on the defense and didn't help as well, and you have to against a team like this."
Superstar Vince Carter
, still hampered by a calf injury, scored 19 points to lead seven players in double figures. But nine of those points came after Dallas had opened a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Carter has been criticized for not showing more leadership.
"In the first half, I thought he was moving OK," Wilkens said. "In the second half, he was a little sore but he wanted to play. We'll have to see (how he is)."
"Things just aren't going our way right now," Carter added. "We just have to keep playing and know that it is going to happen soon."
There is no sign of that. The Raptors fell to 0-2 on a five-game road trip that still has visits to Miami, Orlando and New Jersey. Dirk Nowitzki
scored 35 points, Michael Finley
added 25 and Steve Nash
19 and a season-high 15 assists for the Mavericks, who shot a blistering 65 percent (46-of-71) from the field.
Dallas (43-18) took the lead for good early in the third quarter and cruised to its sixth win in seven games. It moved into a virtual tie with Sacramento (42-17) for the best record in the NBA.
"We played so well offensively tonight that we felt in control for the most part and we broke their spirit in the second half," Nash said.
Finley scored 14 points and Nowitzki 12 in the first half as the Mavs were able to negate the energy of the Raptors and take a 55-54 lead.
"Any team that has dropped 12 games in a row, you don't necessarily want to see them, because they are going to be looking to work hard and get healthy fast," Mavs forward Raef LaFrentz
A jumper by Nash gave Dallas the lead for good at 57-56 early in the third period. Nash had 10 points and four assists in the quarter, which ended with the Mavs holding an 88-77 lead.
A follow shot by Eduardo Najera
capped a 16-1 burst and gave Dallas a 100-78 lead with 8:49 to go.
LaFrentz scored 13 points for Dallas, which had just nine turnovers. Keon Clark
had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Antonio Davis
added 12 and 15 for Toronto, which shot 41 percent (37-of-90) and held a 51-34 edge on the boards.