Raptors rally to defeat Mavericks in OT

Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan knocked down an off-balance jumper in overtime that proved the difference in the Raptors' 109-108 victory Friday night over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
The Raptors, down by as many as 19 in the first half, improved to 10-14 with their third consecutive road win. Toronto won for only the fourth time ever in Dallas.
DeRozan finished with 15 points, as six Raptors scored at least 14. Point guard Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 20 points, center Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and guard Terrance Ross and forward Amir Johnson each scored 15.
The Mavericks (15-11) had its two-game winning streak snapped in the finale of a three-game homestand. The Mavericks also wasted a standout performance from guard Jose Calderon, scored a season-high 23 and dished out nine assists.
Calderon also tied a career high with seven 3-pointers, and nearly single-handedly lifted the Mavericks past his old team with his play in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Calderon looked back to the huge lead the Mavericks let evaporate in the second quarter.
"We had a 19-point lead," he said. "We just kind of gave it away in five or six minutes. So it was tough. We had some miscommunication there on defense, they scored easy, and they got their mojo back, and they were playing much better.
"What happened at the end -- you know it's going to be one shot, one stop, and I think we did the right things, but we couldn't make the last shot. But it is what it is. We've got to take care of the game when you're 19 points up."
DeRozan was just as clutch down the stretch. He sent the game into overtime with a driving jumper with 16 seconds left and knocked down the game winner with 1:11 remaining in the extra session. DeRozan also had a team-high nine assists.
"I understand that most teams are going to key in on me, so I use that to my advantage to help get my teammates going," DeRozan said. "They help me get some easy buckets once they knock down a couple of shots. They do a great job of putting me in the best situation at the end of games to get a bucket whenever we need one."
The Raptors opened a robust three-game Western Conference road trip, which ventures to Oklahoma City and San Antonio, on the right foot. Dallas dropped to 11-3 at home and 7-3 against the East after its first overtime game this season.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 22, but missed his last six shots. Guard Monta Ellis (21 points) misfired on Dallas' last possession of OT.
Lowry got hot in the third quarter, helping the visitors inch ahead. Dallas finished the period strong, just as they did in the second, to take an 81-78 lead on Ellis' scoop going into the fourth.
Toronto opened the fourth with an 8-0 run, including consecutive 3-pointers from guards Greivis Vasquez (14 points) and DeRozan to go up 86-81 and force Dallas coach Rick Carlisle to call timeout. The stoppage didn't help, as Vasquez drilled another 3 to put Dallas in an 89-81 hole.
Calderon turned aggressive in leading the Mavericks' comeback. Besides knocking down several shots, Calderon found an open Nowitzki for a 3-pointer to put Dallas back on top 95-93.
The Raptors responded to take the game beyond regulation for the second game in a row. Toronto lost 104-102 to Charlotte at home on Wednesday.
"We were sleepwalking," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the first-half deficit. "We kind of had an emotional drunk from our close loss the other night. I thought we were feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit.
"I had to get their attention and they did. Guys responded. They came out swinging, hit us with a haymaker, and I'm proud of the way our guys fought back. That's what the NBA is all about."
Calderon hit two 3-pointers early as Dallas jumped out to a 14-6 lead, prompting a timeout out of Casey. The spread stretched into double digits midway through the first quarter and the Mavericks were up 33-22 at the end of the period.
The Raptors found themselves down as much as 19 points (41-22) in the second before making a push and cutting into the deficit with a 10-0 run. Toronto then took a 49-47 lead after a 13-0 spurt that ended on guard Ross' post-up floater.
"It went wrong in the first half," Carlisle said. "We built a big lead and then we had breakdowns and then we had too many mistakes. They chewed into the lead very quickly.
"It's hard to build a 19-point lead in this league. You have to play well and you have to do a lot of things on both sides of the ball. To give up the lead that easy gave them a lot of life and they outlasted us."
The Mavericks finished the first half with a jumper from Nowitzki and Ellis' 3-point play to take a 52-49 advantage into the locker room. Ellis had 11 points at the break to pace Dallas, while Lowry topped all scorers with 12.
NOTES: The Mavericks have seen an improvement defensively in December, allowing just 96.6 points going into Friday. "We've committed 80 percent of our practice to defense and rebounding," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were just that bad on defense." ... Raptors coach Dwane Casey was an assistant under Carlisle in Dallas. Casey took the Toronto job after the Mavericks won the 2011 NBA title. ... Casey has seen few signs of aging in 35-year-old F Dirk Nowitzki. "I see a younger Dirk, almost like a rejuvenated Dirk," Casey said. "He's shot the ball well, he's moving well. I haven't seen any signs of decline whatsoever." ... Dallas completes its eighth back-to-back of the season Saturday at Phoenix. ... Dallas G Jose Calderon and F Shawn Marion both played for Toronto.

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