DALLAS – The Mavericks looked worn out and at times, disoriented. They were playing for the fourth time in six days, second in three and facing a motivated Toronto Raptors squad in the first game of a Eastern conference back-to-back.
Trailing as many as 13 in the first half, Dallas found itself down for the majority of the game, but used a big fourth-quarter output to complete its homestand with a 99-92 victory over the Raptors Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
Dallas (39-20) trailed for most of this one, including 77-74 entering the fourth. Back-to-back buckets from J.J. Barea pushed the Mavericks with their first lead since 21-19 with four minutes to spare in the first quarter. Toronto (37-20) kept it close before Dirk Nowitzki and Barea hit threes for a five-point lead with 7:30 left. A steal from Monta Ellis and Al-Farouq Aminu finish made it 91-84 while Ellis’ 17-foot hook-shot gave Dallas a 10-point cushion two minutes later.
“I thought Barea was great; shot making, playmaking, all kinds of really good stuff. It was a game that was going to be a really hard game,” Rick Carlisle said. “I thought the defining play of the game was [Amar’e] Stoudemire going on the floor for the loose ball and then winning the tip. We had a lot of guys scrambling hard, playing hard.”
The Mavericks got out to their largest lead of the contest 97-85 after Aminu’s 12-foot turnaround fade and held on to finish 3-0 on this homestand. They defeated Charlotte Sunday and Houston Friday night. Dallas went 25-15 in the fourth quarter, allowing Toronto to go 6-of-19 in the frame.
“They’re playing their fourth in five nights, so they’re a little worn down. We just needed to keep the pressure on them and we had to keep attacking – which we did,” Carlisle said.
Five players scored in double figures including 20 from Ellis and 18 from the Big German. Barea scored eight of his 13 in the final quarter while Devin Harris and Richard Jefferson added 14 and 11 points, respectively. Aminu grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds while Dirk added nine. He came in with an average of 6.1 on the season and nine in his past four games.
Dallas started off hot, hitting its first four shots, including three from Nowitzki, who scored seven of the first nine points for the Mavericks. Dallas led 11-4 before the Raptors used a 12-4 run to take their first lead with 5:20 left in the opening quarter. They would end the final nine minutes with a 25-16 run, holding Dallas to just 6-of-18 after its hot start.
Entering the second, many thought the Mavericks would get back in it and almost did, down 35-34 before the turnover bug struck Big D. DeMar DeRozan’s 14-footer sealed a 51-38 lead with 4:25 left before halftime. It was a 16-4 run that saw Dallas commit five turnovers in a four-minute span. The Mavericks kept fighting back, never going down any more and scored 11 of the next 13 points before Toronto took a 55-49 lead into the break.
Toronto would go up 11 in the third, holding Dallas to just four points in the first five minutes of the quarter. The Raptors then led 66-55 before back-to-back threes from Jefferson and Ellis gave former Mavs assistant/Toronto head coach Dwane Casey a reason to call time. Dallas got within two points three minutes later and kept that distance at the buzzer.
The Mavericks went on a 16-5 run from the 6:08 mark of the third through the 2:06 mark to knot the game at 71-all.
Ellis scored 20 or more for the 28th time this season – the Mavs improving to 20-8 when he does so. Dallas also recorded 13 steals on the night and moved to 14-5 on the season when it has 10+ steals in a game. Dallas also improved to 16-6, 12-4 and 11-3 when Harris, Barea, Jefferson score in double figures, respectively.
Dallas moved to 27-9 when five or more players score in double figures, 20-15 when the opponent does so and 13-7 when both do it. Toronto had six in double figures, led by DeRozan’s 18 points. Greivis Vasquez added 14 in 19 minutes and Kyle Lowry had 11, but on 4-of-15 shooting. The Raptors shot 38-of-84 (45 percent) to Dallas’ 48 percent (38-of-79). The Mavericks also moved to 7-6 when the opponent has six or more with 10+ points, and 8-6 in the first game of back-to-backs and 2-2 when it’s a home-road back-to-back.
Tyson Chandler was seen postgame walking around gingerly. He may have been hit below the waist, but Carlisle thinks it’s an ankle issue.
“I don’t know for sure. It looked like he may have twisted his ankle on a cameraman or something like that, but I don’t know for sure,” he said.
Rajon Rondo, playing in his 25th game for Dallas, had a heated exchange with Carlisle in the third quarter and never returned to action. Rondo chose not to speak with the media postgame.
“It’s an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion. There was an exchange, and then, in my mind, it was over,” Carlisle said.
Toronto, the second best team out East, blew an 18-point lead against New Orleans Monday. Now the Mavericks have the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta to take on the East-leading Hawks (44-12). The Hawks also have the league’s best home-court record at 25-4 while Dallas is tied with Atlanta with the second-most road wins this season at 19.
In their only meeting of the season back in Dallas on Dec. 22, Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 22 points to stop the Mavericks’ fourth-quarter rally 105-102. Dallas outscored Atlanta by 16 in the final frame. Al Horford had 17 and seven while Paul Millsap finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven dimes. Six Mavs scored in double figures led by 18 and 16 from Ellis and Dirk. Rondo had a double-double with 13 points and 11 dimes. Chandler grabbed 19 boards. Dallas was plus-12 from deep, but shot six percent worse than the Hawks.