DALLAS — Coming off the best regular season in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors are 4-0 for the first time ever.
“We are off to great start,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said, “but we have to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry scored 27 points, and the Raptors remained undefeated by topping the Dallas Mavericks 102-91 Monday night at American Airlines Center.
The Raptors rode a 12-0 burst in the fourth quarter to take control in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The quick start isn’t going to the heads of a young squad that won 49 games last season.
“We just want to go out there and win every opportunity we get,” Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan said. “The previous games don’t matter, but the one that we got next (does). That’s how we’re treating this season.”
The Mavericks (2-2) dropped their home opener after going 2-1 on a West Coast road trip. Dallas, which swept Toronto last season, held a halftime lead and was up by four points midway through the final period.
Lowry shot 9-for-15 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line, and added 10 assists. He also had three steals and two blocks in 37 minutes.
“He has been real solid for us and is showing amazing leadership qualities,” Casey said. “He is a
very tough kid. He got big stops for us. It’s early in the season, and we will be very mindful to try and keep him fresh for this long season.”
DeRozan battled back from early foul trouble to score 20 after logging just seven minutes in the first half.
The Raptors made 23 of 26 free throws, with Lowry sinking all eight of his foul shots.
Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 but had only five points in the second half. Point guard Deron Williams scored 13 on 4-of-15 shooting, and Dallas shot only 38.4 percent.
“We have gotten back to defense,” Casey said. “That’s what it takes to get to get wins in this league. It takes defensive commitment from every player on the team.
“When the offense is not clicking for us, it’s going to be our defense that keeps us in the game, and hopefully our offense will come around.”
Dallas backup forward/center Dwight Powell had 10 points (all in the first half) and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Mavs guard J.J. Barea dished out six assists off the bench.
The Raptors’ 12-point spurt turned an 86-82 deficit into a 92-86 advantage. Toronto power forward Luis Scola (19 points and 12 rebounds) hit the team’s only other 3-pointer beside the four from Lowry during the game-turning surge.
The Raptors finished the game with a 20-5 run.
“They made it more their type of game: physical, grinding, lot of physical contact,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “They turned it into a boxing match, and we needed to have it be a basketball game. We need to be a little tougher overall at both ends.”
The Mavericks made up a nine-point, first-quarter deficit to take a 51-49 lead into halftime. A 19-4 run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Nowitzki put Dallas up 39-33.
Nowitzki had 13 points in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting.
Lowry knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and had 14 points at the break. Scola had 12 points and five boards.
Mavs small forward Chandler Parsons (nine points on 3-of-6 shooting) started and played 14 minutes in the first half. He didn’t play in the second half, as the team is monitoring his minutes. Parsons is coming back from offseason knee surgery.
“He’s doing well,” Carlisle said. “We certainly could have used him in the second half, but that’s just not in the cards. We’re going to keep going on like this for a while.”
Parsons, though, isn’t completely sold on the cautious strategy. He suggested moving his minutes to crunch time.
“I’d almost rather play the second half to be honest, close the game,” he said.
Toronto concludes its first back-to-back of the season Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.
The Mavericks’ three-game homestand continues Thursday against the Charlotte Hornets.