Despite the absence of Andrea Bargnani, the Raptors got off to an unbelievable start against the Mavs by bursting out a 22-3 lead in the first quarter. But Dallas got back to within striking distance by halftime, came out of the break refocused and then romped in a second half that saw them outscore Toronto 64-39.
Dallas quickly stormed back to take the lead with a 12-4 run to start the third, but the Raptors remained within three after 36 minutes. The Mavs then closed the door to start the fourth, bottling up Toronto with a 12-2 run to push their advantage to 13 points, which only grew from there.
The Raptors didn't see Dirk Nowitzki in their win in Dallas back on Dec. 28, but the forward made up for lost time with a 31-point, 13-rebound performance on Sunday. Nowitzki was instrumental in bringing the Mavs back in the second quarter with 16 points and five rebounds plus helped blow things open in the fourth with seven points during the decisive run.
"It's tough because he sets the screen," said Raptors head coach Jay Triano. "I thought Dirk was very unselfish, he still takes 20 shots but he sets the screen and if you help, he pops for a jump shot and if you don't, then the guy is turning the corner and getting into the lane."
James Johnson is still trying to figure out a new playbook and has to shake off some shooting rust, but there were some real positives Sunday as he neared triple-double territory with eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists (plus two steals and two blocks) in 36:28.
"I haven't played in a year-and-a-half -- and so really being in game shape to play all these minutes? I'm not yet," said Johnson. "I can't lie to say that I am. But once I get my feet under me, a couple of days to get some work in and stop being on short on my jumpers and maybe that'll help me in the pick-and-roll."
"We only shot 45 per cent in the second half. I thought we were really aggressive and assertive in the first half, different guys. In the second half they played very good defense and they stepped it up knowing that we were having a pretty good shooting game. We were well above 50 per cent at halftime. When they stepped it up they stop your first bit of movement, then it becomes a one-on-one game and that puts them in a rebounding position and we hit a bit of a lull in the third quarter with only 15 points." - Jay Triano, on the second half vs. Dallas
Tues., Mar. 1 vs. Hornets
7PM, Sportsnet One, FAN590
The Raptors complete their four-game homestand against Chris Paul and the Hornets before crossing the pond to London on Tuesday night. Toronto dropped a close 85-81 game to the Hornets in the Big Easy back on Jan. 17. The Hornets have lost seven of their last 10, but had won two in a row as of Sunday evening.
|22-3||Raptors run to begin the game|
|64-25||Bench scoring favouring the Mavs|
|4||Number of games Amir Johnson has led the Raptors in scoring this season|
|8||Team-high in rebounds for Jose Calderon|
|18.9||Scoring average for DeMar DeRozan in February|
|"Their offence, we couldn't stop that one play where they had Dirk in the corner and they set their pick and roll on the big men. We had trouble guarding that play, so that really hurt us."|
- Amir Johnson on the Mavs' offence
|"Tonight I thought one of the real keys to the game is (Shawn) Marion starting the third quarter to match up with (Amir) Johnson and he had a tremendous all around third quarter for us and that energized our team and got us the lead."|
- Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle on his bench
|"It was hard. They’ve got too many shooters out there so at the end of the day you’ve got to leave them something. They were just picking us apart."|
- Jose Calderon, on guarding the Mavs