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Raptors' Rapid Recap - Dallas Mavericks 114 - Toronto Raptors 96

-An Andrea Bargnani-less version of the Toronto Raptors started off strong but couldn't sustain the momentum, eventually succumbing to the Dallas Mavericks tonight, 114 to 96.  Dirk Nowitzki had 31 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Mavs, who used a strong second half to eventually walk out of the Air Canada Center with a W.

-The Raptors actually jumped out to a huge lead early, 22 to 3 at one point, but the Mavericks showed why they are one of the league's best, chipping away at that lead until they were down only seven at the half to the Raps.  After some halftime adjustments, the Mavs then came out guns blazing, outscoring the Dinos 25 to 15 in the third quarter, and 39 to 24 in the final frame as this one was over with about five minutes to go.

-The bizzaro-Raptors showed up in this one again, as the starters were very productive but the bench looked like it was still playing against the Phoenix Suns.  The Mavs' bench outscored Toronto's pine-crew 64 to 25.  TO's starters however looked quite good, especially the athletic trifecta of James Johnson, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, the latter who got the start in place of Bargnani, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms.  The trio terrorized Dallas early, using their length to get stops around the rim and force tough looks, while attacking the glass and moving the Mavericks' D around the court.

-However Jay Triano couldn't get any sort of continuity off the pine and instead, chuck-fest ensued with Leandro Barbosa leading the 1 on 5 charge.  He was 3 of 10 on the evening and Jerryd Bayless was a beautiful 2 of 8.  Toss in the fact that their chucking halted Toronto's ball movement and forced bad shots that the Mavs were easily able to use to score easy baskets in transition, and that was pretty much the game.  (Dallas had 21 fast-break points to Toronto's 12.)

-Even in this loss though, there were a good many positives to take away.  For one, Jose Calderon played much more like the player who gave the Chicago Bulls fits than the one who disappeared against Phoenix.  (15 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists.)  And James Johnson looked like he could be a constant triple-double threat at the 3 spot going forward this season.  (He finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.)  As well, this was hardly a lackluster effort from Toronto, who simply lost to one of the deepest teams in the league, something they showed this evening.  And with Minnesota beating Golden State, tonight's loss again puts them that much closer to a guaranteed top 3 pick.