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3 things we observed as the Mavericks slip up late and fall to the Raptors 123-120

Dallas couldn’t hold off Toronto after a strong third quarter surge.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors clashed for some Sunday night hoops for the second time this season but the first in Dallas.

It was about as exciting as one could hope for coming down to the final few minutes, but the Raptors were able to hold on late to beat the Mavericks for the second time this season, 123-120.

Toronto was led by Kawhi Leonard’s 33 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors kept pace with the East leading Milwaukee Bucks. Luka Doncic had another dominant display for Dallas posting 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, good for his second triple double in the last four games.

The Mavericks now sit at 22-27 with playoff aspirations slipping away, but here’s what we saw tonight.

Luka Doncic - All Star

Coaches have until Tuesday to vote on all-star reserves, and at this point Doncic should be one of those players, no questions about it. Doncic became the first teenager ever to post a 30-point triple double and the first player ever to record multiple triple doubles before his 20th birthday. The rookie is simply incredible and dominated against a really good defensive team. The Raptors threw Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and Kawhi freaking Leonard at him and he still scored a career-high 35 points.

Doncic has been on an absolute tear in his last eight games, averaging 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and tonight will bump all of those numbers up. When he recorded his first triple double he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but tonight he was 14-of-24 and 3-of-9 from three. He was a beast on the boards grabbing a career-high 12 boards and his court vision was elite. It seemed impossible a month ago, but Doncic really is getting better by the game.

The game was won behind the arc

It’s pretty much how NBA games are decided these days, but there was a big disparity from three tonight and it was just enough to push Toronto over the top. The Raptors started off hot connecting on 7-of-11 from deep int he first quarter but cooled off as the game went on and even endured a 1-of-7 third quarter. On the night the Raptors poured in 17-of-34 from three, good for 50 percent. That’s a significant increase from the 35 percent mark Toronto owns for the season. The Raptors benefitted from the Mavericks inability to find shooters in transition as well as Dallas failing to corral defensive rebounds. Threes after an offensive rebound are back breakers, and Toronto was able to capitalize a few different times.

The Mavericks on the other hand struggled considerably from three, shooting 31 percent on 11-of-36 from behind the arc. Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr. combined for 4-of-18 which really hurt the Mavericks while Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Danny Green combined for 10-of-21.

Missed free throws will haunt the Mavericks

This game was a real slobberknocker as both teams shot 72 free throws combined. At one point in the second quarter, when both teams were in the bonus, it seemed that both teams were shooting free throws every time down the floor. Toronto missed only six of their 38 attempts, but Dallas missed 11 of their 34 in a game they lost by three. Those missed free throws are monumental hiccups in a game that went down to the wire.

The Mavericks face the New York Knicks next on Wednesday which starts a crucial four game stretch against the Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets.