A big bench showing in the second half helped the Mavericks to a 13-point comeback win against the Raptors on Tuesday. The major storyline from this game may be Rajon Rondo's third quarter benching, and perhaps it's hard to untangle the two consider Dallas started their comeback after he sat. However, this recap will focus on the win itself, an important one with a tough trip to Atlanta coming on Wednesday. Discussion about Rondo and Carlisle can be funneled here.
The Mavericks really did need this win. Playing the Hawks on the road on the second night of a back-to-back is as close to a schedule loss as you can get. By beating Toronto, the Mavericks move into sole possession of the no. 5 seed in the Western Conference and earn two wins without Chandler Parsons, whose importance was clearly seen in his absence for stretches of this game.
It was a bipolar performances for the Mavericks, who looked dominant for stretches with strong defense, and inept at other moments with self-inflicted turnovers. The Raptors stretched their lead to 64-53 early in the third quarter before Dallas finished the quarter 19-14 to close within three.
J.J. Barea and Amar'e Stoudemire each made big shots as the Mavericks took the lead, but it was all set up around Devin Harris' fantastic play. He was outstanding, scoring 14 points on 5-10 shooting with three rebounds, five assists and four steals. His defense felt omnipresent at times, coming out of nowhere to close a passing lane or step in front of a driving guard.
Harris' defense has been inconsistent this season, but he's capable of performances like this. When he combines it with an offensive game that features him attacking the rim heavily instead of pulling for long, unnecessary jump shots, Harris can be the best guard on the Mavericks' roster. On Tuesday, even though Ellis was solid in his own right and made some key shots, Harris was clearly Dallas' best guy in the backcourt.
- I'll refrain from saying too much because he's about to be the subject of a longer story, but Al-Farouq Aminu is the reason why the Mavericks' defense has improved so much since the Rondo trade. Sometimes though, honestly, I'm more impressed with his offensive rebounding. I literally don't know how he gets to some of the boards.
- Dirk's in a weird groove. It felt like he shot well, yet he finished 7-18. The shots that go in barely touch net, yet he's still missing his fair share lately. Still, I feel confident he's rounding into form.
- The 13-point deficit for Dallas actually came in the second quarter. Interestingly, the Mavericks went to a three-guard lineup -- Devin, Monta and Rondo -- that helped spark them on a mini-run and draw close again before halftime ended.
- Wait, that was Amar'e Stoudemire's second game with the Mavericks? Not a chance. Feels like he's been here for weeks.
- Tyson Chandler injury news: he says he took a knee to the hip flexor. He'd like to play on Wednesday but reportedly walked out of the arena very slowly. Honestly, in a game that the Mavericks would need a miracle to win, just let him sit out. It's better that way.