Game Rap: Raptors 94, Mavericks 86

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

IT WAS OVER WHEN

Patrick Patterson drilled a 3-pointer with 59 seconds remaining to extend Toronto's lead to nine points. Thanks to another solid defensive effort, the Raptors picked up their fifth straight win with a 94-86 victory over the Mavericks. The win also meant Toronto officially clinched a playoff berth for a team-record fourth consecutive season.

CARROLL OUT, IBAKA BACK

DeMarre Carroll was a late scratch for the game as he did not suit up because of a sore lower back. P.J. Tucker started in his place alongside Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Cory Joseph and DeMar DeRozan. While Carroll was out, Serge Ibaka returned to the lineup after missing Toronto's comeback victory in Miami. Ibaka missed Thursday's game due to a one-game suspension for his role in an on-court altercation with Robin Lopez in Toronto's overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

STARTING STRONG

After weeks of lacklustre starts, the Raptors got off on the right foot in Dallas, wasting little time building a double-digit lead. Toronto shot 54 percent in the opening quarter against the Mavericks, racing out to an early 7-0 lead before then extending their advantage to as many as 13 points before the Mavs managed to get within eight at the end of the quarter. While Dallas was scoreless from beyond the arc, the Raptors shot 4-for-7 from deep in the opening quarter as Serge Ibaka had a 10-point effort, hitting two of Toronto's four 3-pointers in the quarter.

EVENING IT UP

With the Mavericks trailing 30-22 after the opening 12 minutes, they steppe up their defensive efforts in the second quarter and Toronto's field goal percentage came down to 45 percent after that hot-shooting start. The Mavericks may have done a better job on the defensive end in the second quarter, but their offence stalled big time as they connected on just 5-of-17 field goals. Again, Dallas struggled from beyond the arc, shooing 1-of-7 from deep. The Raptors continued to have success from outside, making 3-of-4 attempts from three in the quarter as they outscored the Mavericks by two, 24-22 in the quarter to take a 10-point advantage into the halftime break.

KEEPING PACE

Thanks to a J.J. Barea 30-foot three-pointer at the end of the third quarter, Toronto's lead remained at 10 points heading into the fourth. Dallas shot slightly better than Toronto in the third, making 9-of-21 field goals to Toronto's 8-of-20 shooting, as Harrison Barnes led the way for the Mavs with eight points in the quarter while Barea added six. The Raptors had an even quarter scoring wise, with DeRozan's five points leading the way, while P.J. Tucker and Cory Joseph each added four points.

CLOSING IT OUT

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter for the Raptors. Toronto shot 53 percent from the floor while holding the Mavericks to 33 percent in the quarter as Dallas did not get any closer than five points in the fourth. It was an extremely physical game throughout, but the Raptors prevailed to win their fifth straight, move to 11-4 without Kyle Lowry, and also officially clinch a playoff spot thanks to another strong defensive effort, holding the Mavericks to just 86 points in the game.

RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Serge Ibaka had a solid return after missing Toronto's victory in Miami. Ibaka helped the Raptors get off to a quick start and build an early lead thanks to a 10-point first quarter. He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. Ibaka shot 8-of-16 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. He had two offensive rebounds and an assist and the team was +9 when he was on the floor.

UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Patrick Patterson was fantastic off the bench, playing 24 points and leading the reserves in scoring with 14 points. He shot 5-for-6 from the floor, including a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing an assist. Patterson's final 3-pointer sealed the victory for Toronto, giving the team a nine-point advantage with less than a minute remaining.

THAT'S A RAP…

"We've got to keep it up. We've got to look at this game and understand how we came out aggressive on both ends and carry that over to our home floor and keep building." - DeMar DeRozan on another strong effort defensively

BY THE #'S

38... Percent shooting for the Mavericks. Toronto's defence has improved since the arrival of P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka and Saturday's game was another strong defensive effort.

44... Points in the paint for Toronto, 30 for Dallas.

22... Assists for the Raptors, 20 for the Mavericks. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with six assists.

43... Percent shooting from beyond the arc for the Raptors who shot 9-for-21 from deep. The Mavericks made 25 percent of their 3-point field goals, shooting 7-for-28 from deep.

THEY SAID IT…

"One step up the ladder. Playoffs is where we want to get back to. The Eastern Conference Finals is where we want to get back to so it's just another step up the ladder to get to the top to get to the ultimate goal."
- Patrick Patterson on the team clinching another playoff berth

"Especially my first four years, whatever it was, not making it, now making it consecutive years, trying to build on what we did last year, it's definitely big. Especially with a couple of guys that are going to help us in that moment. It's big."
- DeMar DeRozan on the team clinching a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season

"That was the difference. I thought we came out and set the tone as far as the game was concerned. That has been our bugaboo, we've been fighting uphill the past two or three games and that was something we wanted to make sure we came out [strong]."
- Dwane Casey on his team's strong first quarter

"Just the energy and effort level was up. From the start, here in the locker room, the leaders on the team and also the coaching staff making a conscious effort, a statement, that we needed to start the game off the right way. The starting unit did it. They got stops on the defensive end, they capitalized on offence, JV crashing the boards, [DeMar] easy shots, Serge asserting himself on the court. The second unit came in and wanted to keep up that effort."
- Patrick Patterson on the team's strong start against the Mavericks

"The two guys our front office added, P.J. and Serge, are excellent defenders. We're doing nothing different, our coverages are the same. It's different people. Those two men bring the energy and the toughness. For the first time that I've been in Toronto, we have two guys in the huddle talking defence. Usually guys are saying how can I get my shot, how can I get my touches and those two guys are coming in and talking about defence."
- Dwane Casey on the defensive boost that P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka have provided

UP NEXT:

The Raptors return to Toronto where they will take on the Orlando Magic at the Air Canada Centre on Monday at 7:30 P.M. ET.

Game Highlights: Raptors at Mavericks - March 25, 2017

Watch highlights from Toronto's 94-86 road win over Dallas on Saturday night.

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Game Highlights: Raptors at Mavericks - March 25, 2017

Watch highlights from Toronto's 94-86 road win over Dallas on Saturday night.
Mar 25, 2017  |  05:29

Raptors Post-Game: Dwane Casey - March 25, 2017

Head coach Dwane Casey addresses the media following Toronto's 94-86 road win over Dallas on Saturday night.
Mar 25, 2017  |  04:53

Raptors Post-Game: Patrick Patterson - March 25, 2017

Patrick Patterson addresses the media following Toronto's 94-86 road win over Dallas on Saturday night.
Mar 25, 2017  |  01:58

Raptors Post-Game: DeMar DeRozan - March 25, 2017

DeMar DeRozan addresses the media following Toronto's 94-86 road win over Dallas on Saturday night.
Mar 25, 2017  |  01:23