TORONTO, Nov. 6 (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki
and Michael Finley
for 50 points as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Toronto
Raptors, 106-92, for their best start since the 1995-96 season.
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Nowitzki scored 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting and pulled down
13 rebounds while Finley was 3-of-3 from the arc and added 22
Shawn Bradley made a strong contribution at center in place of
injured starter Raef LaFrentz, scoring 14 points and pulling
down 13 rebounds.
"We just hang in there and play our game," Nowitzki said. "I
think we stepped it up defensively a little bit. We just tried
to take their shots away and make them drive into our big
people. Shawn played big and blocked up the middle. He
rebounded well and allowed us to run it."
Bradley had a double-double filling in for Raef LaFrentz.|
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"We knew we had our work cut out for us and it took 48 minutes
to get the job done," added Bradley, who made 5-of-6 shots from
the field and blocked four on the defensive end. "We dictated
the tempo in the fourth quarter and we were able to control the
The Mavericks improved to 4-0 for the first time in seven years.
In 1995-96, they followed the 4-0 start by losing 22 of the
next 26 games.
"It's good for us to be going in the right direction and
hopefully we can continue," Finley said. "Offensively, we have
a lot of weapons, but defense will be our key, and tonight in
the fourth quarter we took a step forward."
The Raptors were held to 17 points in the final period but
reached 90 for just the seocnd time in five games.
Toronto took its first lead, 67-66, on Voshon Lenard's three-pointer
with 2:56 left in the third quarter. But Dallas answered
quickly, restoring a five-point lead heading into the final
period before pulling away with a 29-10 run.
Lenard led five Raptors in double figures with 20 points.
Lindsey Hunter chipped in 17 and Morris Peterson and Jerome
Williams added 16 apiece.
Both teams were successful from long range, with Dallas
connecting on 8-of-13 3-pointers and Toronto 7-of-18.
"I was pleased with the effort, no question about it," Toronto
coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We never quit. We ran out of gas,
but we worked real hard and guys extended themselves. We made a
game of it and they didn't just walk all over us."
Toronto was without Vince Carter and Antonio Davis for the
second straight game. Last season's leading scorers are
sidelined at least a week with injuries suffered in Saturday's
loss to Houston.
"We fought with the guys we have and we try not to make excuses,
Lenard said. "We will try to ride it out as best we can until
we get some guys back healthy."
The Raptors' injury woes continued when starting center Jelani
McCoy left at 3:54 of the first quarter with tightness in his
back and did not return. That left Wilkens with just seven
players at his disposal.
Aside from Carter and Davis, forward Lamond Murray and centers
Eric Montross and Hakeem Olajuwon are on the injured list.
Toronto signed free agent center Greg Foster to help the
"It's an advantage to come in here when they have some guys out
of the lineup, but only an advantage if you win the game,"
Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "The pressure was on us to come
through, and we did."
The Raptors lost for just the third time in their last 16 games
without Carter in the lineup.