Raptors 122 – Mavs 115 [OT]: Somehow, we get there

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 16: DeMar DeRozan
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 16: DeMar DeRozan /

The Mavericks defeated the Raptors in Dallas, and came thisclose to doing it again in Toronto. Fortunately the home team was able to roar back for a tie, then close the deal in OT.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey decided to give his starting point guard, Kyle Lowry, the night off. While that was a defensible decision, the rest of the troops had to step up. Defeating the well-rested and recently successful Dallas Mavericks was not guaranteed by any means.

The Raptors continued their worrisome recent trend of playing from behind. They held a slight lead until part way through Q2, when the Mavericks put together a 13-2 run. The only Raptor making any impact was Jonas Valanciunas, who cleaned up and put back the seemingly endless string of Toronto misses. With no shooting from anyone (DeMar DeRozan had one basket, though he kept shooting, as we’ll see), and Dallas hitting from everywhere, Toronto was fortunate to leave the floor at halftime down only six.

TORONTO, CANADA – MARCH 16: Serge Ibaka /

The Raptors couldn’t make up any deficit in Q3, as DeRozan continued his futile jump shooting. The team was 5 for 20 from deep by now, as Lowry’s absence wasn’t being backfilled by anyone.

The fourth quarter was a roller-coaster. Toronto couldn’t close the 6-point gap, which Dallas held until there were just over 4 minutes to play. DeRozan scored the last four points, after which neither team could score in the final 75 seconds. Serge Ibaka’s floater in the lane fell off the rim with a few ticks remaining, and we were off to overtime.

Roaring back, again

The Mavs scored the first two buckets, after which the Raptors struck gold. Delon Wright’s deep shot was pure, then DeRozan’s long ball rattled, went straight up and came down through the mesh. After a crazy sequence, Fred VanVleet’s second long ball within 15 seconds went splash. The Mavs responded with Dwight Powell hitting a three, hardly a predictable development. DeMar’s close-in deuce gave the Raptors a lead they would never relinquish. Jonas Valanciunas made the Mavs pay for fouling him, and another win was in the books.

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I don’t know if there are many lessons to be taken from this game, other than the urgent need to give DeRozan some rest. There was much sloppy play, with both teams passing to phantom teammates or turning over the ball in silly ways. That said, Pascal Siakam was a force for Toronto. Nerlens Noel has got all the tools to be an All-Star within 3 years if his coach grants him the minutes he needs. J.J. Barea is ageless.

The Raptors get a brief respite after three games in four nights. Saturday is an off-day, then the OKC Thunder are in town on Sunday afternoon.