Recap: Raptors 104 at Mavericks 109; Short-handed Mavs sweep homestand with W over Raptors
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' win over the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night, as the team swept its three-game homestand despite playing without four key veterans.
Recap: Raptors 104 at Mavericks 109; Short-handed Mavs sweep homestand with W over Raptors
DALLAS — Seemingly since the beginning of training camp in late September the Dallas Mavericks have been dealing with injuries throughout their new-look lineup.
But, it wasn’t until Wednesday night that those injuries were truly apparent, as the Mavericks prepared to take the court against the Toronto Raptors minus four players.
Still playing without 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki following his arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19, the Mavs were further handicapped Tuesday when a MRI revealed that forward Shawn Marion would miss at least three games due to a sprained left medial collateral ligament (MCL). Meanwhile, with the birth of his daughter pending in New York, big man Elton Brand left the squad to join his wife before likely meeting up with his teammates in time for Friday night’s game against the Knicks to start a two-game road trip. And with fourth-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois slated to miss his third straight game due to a sprained left ankle, a banged-up Mavericks roster welcomed back former defensive coordinator and current Raptors coach Dwane Casey to conclude a three-game homestand.
Still, even without four of their top contributors, the Mavericks continued to power ahead. And after outfighting the Raptors (1-4) for four quarters en route to a 109-104 victory, the Mavs finished an unbeaten homestead in style and improved to 4-1 to start the season for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
“I thought we had the potential to really get off to a good start, but I didn’t know how we were gonna do it,” point guard Darren Collison said of the impressive record despite injuries to some of the team’s veteran leaders. “You know, I think we’re a very good team and an underrated team at that. But, you know, I expected us to have a good start. It says a lot. It tells you we have a lot of guys that can do so many things, especially when Shawn’s out. You know, we’ve been doing a great job when Dirk’s been out, and like I said, when Dirk, Shawn and those guys get back, they’re only gonna be an added addition to us. A big added addition. So, I’m proud of our guys for stepping up and making plays.”
Without the services of Marion and Brand, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was forced to reshuffle his starting lineup after using the same unit through the first four games, inserting center Chris Kaman and rookie Jae Crowder alongside big man Brandan Wright, 2-guard O.J. Mayo and Collison. Meanwhile, the Raptors were forced to play without point guard Kyle Lowry after he sprained his right ankle during the second quarter of Toronto’s 108-88 loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
After back-to-back 30-plus point games, Mayo continued his offensive outburst in the early stage of the opening quarter, before a coast-to-coast drive by Collison put the Mavs up 13-7 and forced the Raptors to call a quick timeout with 7:23 left in the quarter. The Dallas advantage would then surge into double figures after Kaman took over the scoring duties and new addition Troy Murphy cashed in on his first 3 as a Mav, helping the Mavericks lead 36-24 after one.
It was the Mavs’ third straight opening quarter of at least 30 points.
“I liked the way we played for the most part. We had some lapses during the game, but the starting lineup got us off to a good start. We were hitting shots, but the thing we missed tonight was Elton’s presence. Without him we aren’t a very physical team. That is my concern and hopefully we will get him back for Friday,” Carlisle said.
With rookie Bernard James taking advantage of the added playing time inside, the Mavs continued to widen their separation on the scoreboard early in the second stanza as the big man picked up the slack on the glass to make up for the absences of Marion and Brand.
“I’m starting to figure out how I need to play and where I need to make my moves,” James simply said. “I know I can help with rebounds, so any chance I get in the game, my main mindset is to try to get out and rebound and try to help my team that way.”
“Bernard James had a great game. He was a real factor when he was in there,” the coach added.
A highlight reel alley-oop connection between Collison and eight-time All-Star Vince Carter was then wiped off by a flagrant-one foul call on Raptors big man Aaron Gray, before the Mavs headed into the halftime intermission with a 61-50 advantage after leading by as much as 16.
Toronto stayed in the game behind big man Andrea Bargnani’s 15 points on 6-of-10 from the field. Meanwhile, led by Kaman’s 12 points and Mayo’s 10 points at the midway mark on a combined 8-of-17 shooting, the Mavs outshot the Raptors through two quarters, 47.8 percent to 42.1 percent.
“I thought early we did a good job. It was a little up and down with shotmaking tonight. It wasn’t as consistent as it has been the last couple of home games, but the most important thing is digging out the win in the end,” Kaman explained after the Mavs connected on better than 61 percent in the previous two wins.
Both teams came out of the locker room sluggishly as the third quarter got under way with the game slowing down. But, after carrying the Mavs in the two previous games, Mayo re-assumed his aggression in the quarter to help keep some distance between the two teams.
But, with DeRozan aiding Bargnani and equaling Mayo shot for shot, the Raptors refused to go quietly, before back-to-back scores by Kaman inside down the stretch helped to put the game away.
After becoming the third Maverick in double figures earlier in the second half, Carter opened up the fourth period with two much-needed 3-pointers to keep the Raptors at bay. Mayo soon followed suit, draining a 3 after a series of pump fakes to help the Mavs regain the momentum.
Still, with DeRozan aiding Bargnani and equaling Mayo shot for shot, the Raptors refused to go quietly, before back-to-back scores by Kaman inside down the stretch helped to put the game away.
It was then believed that Carter’s emphatic rejection on DeRozan’s jumper with just over two minutes remaining would essentially seal the game, but the Raptors came charging right back with an and-one score by Dominic McGuire to climb within five before a clutch Kaman score with 41.4 ticks on the clock calmed matters down.
“That’s part of the reason he was brought here,” Mayo said of the late-game score by Kaman. “He’s a big-time post presence for our team. When we can throw it down there, we trust him to make plays for himself and for other guys, and he showed that tonight. He’s gonna be great for us.”
Mayo then couldn’t capitalize off a technical foul call on former Baylor star Quincy Acy, leading to a jumper by DeRozan to climb within five in the final seconds. Toronto wouldn’t get any closer, however, failing to connect on long-range shots as the game winded to a close.
“It was a real start-and-stop type of game, but kudos to the guys for being able to focus and finish the game,” Carter later concluded. “We got the stops when we needed and executed.”
Sharing the team-high scoring honors were Mayo and Kaman, posting 22 points each on a combined 16-for-32 shooting. Mayo also added a team-best six assists, while Kaman registered eight rebounds and dished out three assists of his own.
Off the bench, Carter added 17 points, while Collison’s 15 points and Wright’s 12 points gave the Mavs five players in double figures.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” Mayo said. “It was good. It’s definitely a positive for us, having Dirk out, Shawn going out, and we just have to pull it together. … I guess we’re maybe proving the naysayers a little wrong, but we’re just gonna go out and play and give ourselves a chance to win every night. That’s what it’s about.”
Bargnani finished with a game-high 25 points and DeRozan pitched in 24 points, as five Raptors also scored in double figures while the Toronto team committed just 10 turnovers compared to Dallas’ 12 total giveaways. But, even without their full complement of players, the Mavericks finished the game outshooting the Raptors on the night, 46.4 percent to 44.4 percent. The Mavs also hit just 8-of-21 from behind the arc, but led by James’ nine rebounds, the home team ended the game with a 47-38 rebounding edge.
“I think our bench is deep. Bernard James came in today and gave us a big lift at the 4 and 5 spot,” Kaman added with praise for the first-year big man. “We’ve got guys picking up where guys are injured, so it’s been a full team effort. We’re on a little bit of a roll and we’re just going to try to keep it going.”
The Mavs will now head out on the road for the start of their two-game road trip, touching down in New York to face ex-Maverick Jason Kidd and the Knicks Friday night. The game will air locally at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
“That’s an important game for us,” Collison emphatically proclaimed. “New York is a very good team. We know the players they have and I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge along with my teammates. That’s a big game for us, and I think we’ve gotta go up there and handle our business. It’s not gonna be easy, but I think we’re gonna be ready to take on the challenge.”