I realize basketball is a game of runs, but how do you manage to start off 22-3 and still manage to lose by 18 points? The Raptors did just that tonight at home against the Mavericks, blowing a huge first quarter lead en route to a 114-96 loss. Playing without Andrea Bargnani, Toronto pulled into halftime with a seven-point lead, but a 64-39 Dallas edge in the final two quarters was enough to put it under covers.
Dirk Nowitzki, who was down with an injury when the Raptors somehow managed to win in Dallas in December, scored 31 points and had 13 rebounds, and Shawn Marion had 20 and six rebounds in just 24 minutes off the bench in a glorious return to his home arena of about two months in 2009. Dallas didn’t even need much out of Peja Stojakovic, who tuned out some inexplicable boos from the clueless Toronto crowd to score just five points. Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi and J.J. Barea also managed double-digits off the bench for the Mavs, whose second unit outscored the Raps’ 64-25.
Bargnani sat with the flu, further proving he’s no Michael Jordan. Ed Davis filled in and made his presence known in the opening quarter, but like the rest of the team, had little impact the rest of the way in finishing with eight points and five boards. Amir Johnson had 21 and seven rebounds, Jose Calderon had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and DeMar DeRozan had 19. Davis, Amir and Calderon combined to shoot 21-of-29 (72.4%), leaving the rest of the group to go an inspired 20-of-55 (36.4%).
The loss makes it a couple downers after Wednesday’s win over Chicago, and leaves the Raps at 1-3 since the break and 16-44 overall. The Hornets are in next, closing out the homestand on Tuesday before a trip to London for a pair with the Nets.