That was...weird? Despite having three days of rest since their last game, the Mavs came out flat on the road against the Toronto Raptors. Dirk Nowitzki helped make up some ground in the third quarter, but the Raptors went up big again. The Mavs garbage-time lineup actually made it a game at the end, but the deficit the Mavs' faced was simply too much to overcome, resulting in a 103-99 Dallas loss.
Bad start helps doom Mavs
Nothing went right for Dallas early. The Raptors ripped off a 14-2 run to start the game and Dallas ended the first quarter down 32-16, shooting 28 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. Toronto, meanwhile, shot 60 percent (!) overall in the first quarter.
Rick Carlisle searched for a spark once the Mavs fell behind 14-2, going to JaVale McGee midway through the first quarter. McGee made a quick impact with a couple of dunks and blocks, but nothing near substantial enough to fix what was ailing Dallas. Even John Jenkins got some burn early in the second quarter and helped the Mavs go on a 13-0 run early in the period. But the Mavs' poor shooting and inability to rebound were their downfalls, and it all started in that first quarter. Carlisle talks about disposition all the time, and Dallas' was terrible from the beginning.
The Mavs were bad on the boards tonight, and that's an understatement. The Raptors, with an injury ravaged front court, out-rebounded the Mavs 53-34. Bismack Biymobo caused all sorts of issues for Dallas, finishing with nine points and 20 rebounds, and even Kyle Lowry got in on the boards with 10 for the game.
The struggle on the boards for Dallas is especially concerning considering this is a Toronto front line with injuries. Jonas Valanciunas, who averages 9.3 rebounds for the Raptors, hasn't played since late November and DeMarre Carroll hasn't played since Dec. 5.
Dirk, Matthews can't lift offense
Much like the rest of his team, Nowitzki had a bad start as well. But, he got it going in the third quarter to help Dallas rally back. Dirk ended the first half with six points on 3-of-10 shooting, but had 11 points in the third quarter and ended with 20. His third quarter output helped Dallas only go into the fourth quarter only down 72-67.
Wesley Matthews, meanwhile, bounced back from a two-point outing with 15 for the game despite some foul trouble. Meanwhile, Toronto had five players in double-figures, led by its starting back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who caused Dallas fits. DeRozan finished with 28 points while Lowry finished 17.
Weirdly enough, the Mavs garbage time lineup of Jenkins, J.J. Barea, Justin Anderson, Charlie Villanueva and Jeremy Evans messed around and helped Dallas get back into the game and made it a one-possession game multiple times with under a minute left. Ultimately, the deficit Dallas put itself in was too much to overcome.
A new injury concern
The biggest news to come out tonight is Deron Williams' strained left hamstring. Williams' got hurt midway through the third quarter and immediately went back to the locker room. He didn't return and it's unclear what his status is for his Brooklyn return tomorrow.
Williams' dealt with a couple of ailments in training camp, but has been relatively healthy during the regular season. Hopefully it isn't a longterm issue.