The defending champs made the Toronto Raptors their first victim of the season; but it wasn't as easy as the final score implied. The HQ examines both the good, as well as the bad from last night's match-up with the Mavs.
Last night the Toronto Raptors headed into Dallas, hoping to steal a game from the defending champs who were coming off of a rather deflating loss at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.
Though the effort was there, the Raptors just couldn't turn the corner and dropped this one 99-86.
Despite the final score, the Raptors displayed a couple of exceptional stretches of basketball, particularly in the second quarter where they went on a 12-0 run that pushed the Mavs back on their heels.
But in the end, it just wasn't enough; some sloppy play by the Raptors down the stretch as well as veteran perseverance by the defending champs proved to be a lethal combination for the Dinos.
We are used to Toronto's defense sagging, however it was the Raptors overall lack of movement on offense and scoring support for Andrea Bargnani that played a bigger role in their demise in this contest.
The Raps got a fantastic effort out of Bargnani, who had 30 points on 11 of 18 shooting and even grabbed 7 rebounds--a reasonable total for the 7 footer considering how heavily the Dinos relied on him at the offensive end of the floor. Otherwise, the Raptors starters gave them very little at the offensive end. Jose Calderon managed double figures with 11 but Demar Derozan's offensive game was virtually nonexistent.
His 4-12 shooting from the floor in 35 minutes of work was not nearly enough of what the Raptors needed if they hoped steal one on the road against the experienced Mavericks. In addition, Derozan's lack of aggressiveness is a definite cause for concern in folks hoping that he is going to be the guy for this club to build around going forward. Needless to say, Derozan had an off night and is going to need to have a big bounce back game against Orlando on Sunday.
Speaking of aggressiveness, another huge stat that went in the favor of Dallas on this night was the free throw disparity. As Adam pointed this out in the Rapid Recap yesterday, the free throw disparity was huge; the Mavs attempted 38 free throws to the Raptors 18. This is becoming another unfortunate trend for the Raps in their 3 games thus far this season.
Aside from a solid effort by Leandro Barbosa--20 points, 3 assists--the bench almost literally gave them nothing. Jerryd Bayless struggled in just 7 minute of action before twisting his ankle and leaving the game for good. Thanks to that ankle injury late in the second quarter, Raptors fans got their first look at Anthony Carter and frankly, he wasn't much better. Ed Davis and James Johnson combined for 4 points and 10 rebounds and failed to bring the energy the Raptors desperately needed from their young defensive forwards.
The Dallas bench blew the Dino's bench out of the water; outscoring them by 30 points.
For the second straight game, interior defense was also major issue for the Dinos. Much like Hibbert in the previous game, Ian Mahinmi was just too much to handle inside. Mahinmi posted a career high of 18 points; which is just the 10th time in his four year NBA career that he has scored in double figures. Interior defense It is something Toronto can make strides toward correcting this season, and for short stretches Magloire can pitch in, but this is something that is probably going to take a personnel change in order to shore up, particularly at the 5 spot.
In short, Toronto is going to need to get more out of their bench on both sides of the ball in future contests, but as the season goes on they are going to have games like this, where certain guys shots' aren't falling and players aren't overly sharp at the offensive end of the floor.
At the end of the day the more talented team won, but the Raptors certainly didn't let the Mavs have the game by any means. This could just have easily been a blowout loss for the Raps, but their extra effort kept it close at times, and challenged the defending champs. In a season like this, there are going to be a few of these games, and the Raptors are just going to have to build on this effort and get after it against the Magic on Sunday.