A 21 first quarter lead gradually dwindled to nothing over the course of the next two and a half quarters, as the Toronto Raptors wore down the Dallas Mavericks before taking control of the game in the final minutes.
A seemingly helpless Maverick team, playing without a resting Dirk Nowitzki, leapt out to a 34-13 lead, then managed just 51 points the rest of the way, including a paltry 12 in the final quarter.
Monta Ellis scored a team-high 21 points, but was one of just three players to reach double figures.
Dallas clearly began to lose steam after their strong first quarter. They shot 54% in the first half, but under 40% in the second half. 13 third quarter points from Ellis helped keep their lead, but even Ellis started to slow down in the fourth, as Toronto really started to hustle on defense, and stifled Dallas. 21 turnovers proved too difficult to overcome, and several in the last few minutes made any attempt at a comeback a joke.
Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan went off for 40 points, earning 14 free throws by attacking the Mavs interior defense. DeRozan essentially was the Raptor scoring attack, as guard Kyle Lowry shot 0-10 and the team barely cracked 40% from the field. Thanks to the Dallas turnovers and 32 Toronto free throw attempts, the home team was able to win despite the poor shooting effort.
This looked like a very winnable game -- Dirk or no Dirk -- and that's about all I can say. Discussing blown leads and bad defense is just getting repetitive and boring.
Dallas led 34-15 after one. Seven different Mavericks scored, and great ball movement was generating close look after close look. Meanwhile, at the other end, Toronto was completely flummoxed, as the team made just five field goals(four by DeRozan).
In the second quarter, Dallas started to hit the wall. They managed just one field goal over the first six and a half minutes, as Toronto clawed to within three. A decent spurt in the final couple of minutes kept the Mavs' first half stats respectable, with 51 points on 54% shooting.
In the fourth quarter Dallas completely collapsed. An eight point lead shrunk to three within two minutes. Then Toronto pulled ahead for their first lead since the game was 5-4 at 82-81. Dallas wouldn't see a lead again. In the final three minutes, the Mavs managed one single Brandan Wright free throw and nothing else. While still down a single possession, Dallas had back to back turnovers by Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis. Comeback dead before it could start.
- Dallas is outrebounded 40-33, despite shooting better from the field. Samuel Dalembert plays just 17 minutes, committing four fouls in that span.
- Ellis had 21 points, but just one point in the fourth quarter. He also committed eight turnovers.
- Vince Carter returned to Toronto(with surprisingly friendly reception), and had a thunderous dunk early, but could not pick up the slack for Dirk as a scorer. The other former Raptors, Jose Calderon and Shawn Marion, tried but could only do so much.
- DeRozan had his way with Monta Ellis. In fairness, it's a pretty unfair matchup, as Ellis gives up several inches in height and DeRozan is an underrated, physical post-up player. On a night when Kyle Lowry put up an 0-fer, even if Dallas had held DeRozan to an above average game, you felt good about their chances.