Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from close-shave win vs Mavericks

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors ground out a win against the Dallas Mavericks with a very up and down performance. What did we learn from the game?

Coming off of one of the most bizarre losses in a long time, the Toronto Raptors were looking to bounce back with a win against Luka Doncic and a very game Dallas Mavericks team with the sixth-best home winning percentage in the NBA. Dallas was on a two-game winning streak with wins against the Clippers and the Pistons, so they had a right to feel confident coming into the game. What we got was a fun affair, both teams were able to flex their muscles at different points of the game, and Luka Doncic once again proved why he should be the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year.

Toronto started the better of the two teams, cruising out to a 15-2 run early one with triples from Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry, and two from Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors hit at least 12 three-pointers in each of their last four games and were on their way to extending that streak to five games. The Mavericks clawed their way back into the game midway through the first quarter, a 7-0 run started by an alley-oop from Dennis Smith Jr. who recently returned from the wilderness. Smith earned a technical foul after flexing at Serge Ibaka after withstanding contact to put in the lay-up.

The Raptors had the better of a high-octane first quarter, heading into the second quarter with a 38-23 lead, following a buzzer-beating deep three. Toronto was 7-11 from three in the first quarter and Lowry and Leonard combined for 23 points. The Mavericks dominated in the paint all night, a similar theme to the loss against the Rockets where Houston scored 62 points in the paint. Toronto continued from where they left off in the first and was shooting over 50-percent from three by the end of the half.

Heading into the fourth quarter the Raptors still couldn’t contain the Mavericks in the paint, Jalen Brunson and Doncic were allowed to blow past defenders at the perimeter on their way to the rim. In one instance, Brunson capitalized on a slip from Danny Green after the cross-court pass from Dwight Powell, he escaped between Siakam and Green before unleashing a cute no-look pass to Maxi Kleber for the slam-dunk. A great play but frustrating to watch.

Led by Kawhi, Kyle, and a switch to a zone defense that has had some very positive results so far, the Raptors pulled back into the lead late in the fourth quarter. With two minutes to go, Doncic made the mistake that so many other men have made this year: he tried to post up on Kyle Lowry. Not even the unstoppable rookie could pull it off, Lowry once again thwarted off another attempt to disrespect him low down.

The Mavericks felt the game slip away after that, no moment wrapped up the night more so than Harrison Barnes missing two free-throws with just over a minute to go. Barnes had the chance to pull the game within two points but he fell at the first and second hurdles. With the Raptors leading 116-112, Kawhi Leonard picked up the ball in the high post with his back to the basket, he shifted his body to face up Wesley Matthews, blew past him and finished with a strong lay-up, that pretty much killed the game off. Toronto found their stride in the fourth and walked away with a 123-120 win, a fun game overall.

Here are my three takeaways from the win against the Mavericks.

1. The Raptors play better when Lowry is aggressive

This seems a little too obvious but the Raptors definitely find their flow a little easier when Kyle Lowry is hot. Lowry finished 19 points on 5-14 shooting from the field, all five of his makes were three-pointers and he only took four shots from within the three-point line. While that doesn’t sound ultra-aggressive if it means he’s coming into less contact from larger players that seems like a win.

Much more than just a strong offensive performance, Lowry was all over the court on the defenseless end, amounting to two blocks and a steal. He dished out another nine assists too, this is the Kyle Lowry we want to see.

2. Luka Doncic is a special human being

Talk about pointing out the obvious yet again. But, seriously, we are in rarefied air with Luka Doncic. This kid is really something special.

Doncic recorded a 35-point, 12-rebound, and 10 assist triple-double, becoming the first teenager to ever record two triple-doubles while he was at it. It’s rare to see a rookie really take control of a game for his team, but yet here Luka was, carrying the load for this young Mavericks team. His ability to play downhill with precision came into great effect as the Mavericks dominated the paint points. It fell apart late on for him but Dallas is onto a winner with the young Slovenian with the world at his feet.

3. Delon takes his chance

After receiving his first DNP/CD since February 2017 against the Rockets, questions were raised about the future of Delon Wright. Wright is a restricted free agent this upcoming off-season and this writer jumped the gun on Friday night and concluded that Delon would be traded before the deadline, hence his absence against the Rockets.

That could still be the case but Wright was back in action against the Mavericks, looking like he had a point to prove. Wright is the superior playmaker on the Raptors bench unit and for the bench to be successful, he needs to have the ball in his hands so he can create looks. Yes, he turned the ball over three times but Wright was efficient in his scoring, with nine points on 3-4 shooting, including one three-pointer.

After being tipped to have a big year, Wright has had an up and down season up until this point. However, his strong performance against the Mavericks can hopefully push him in the (W)right direction. Sorry.

dark. Next. Replacing Greg Monroe

Make sure to check out our takeaways after each game at