By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange
TORONTO — It starts with getting stops. Then the offense can do its thing, getting out and running.
It worked for the Toronto Raptors Monday night when they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 100-78 led by 25 points, six rebounds and two assists from DeMar DeRozan.
“It makes the game a lot easier when you do that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s how we want to play. I thought we had good rhythm from that tonight, I think that’s the key to it, is getting stops. You don’t have to run offense; you have to worry about running the floor.”
The Raptors (39-28) had lost their two previous games to end a road trip at 2-3. It was the second loss in a row for the Mavericks (28-38), who just completed a 4-1 homestand.
“Coming back home after a long road trip, being in our comfort zone, playing in front of our home fans and having positive energy really got us going tonight,” DeRozan said.
The Raptors took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and stretched it to 22 on Fred VanVleet’s 3-pointer.
Norman Powell added 19 points for the Raptors while Jonas Valanciunas contributed 14 points and nabbed 12 rebounds. Patrick Patterson and Delon Wright each chipping in with 11 points off the bench.
Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 18 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 17 points and seven rebounds and Dwight Powell scored 10 points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well enough,” Nowitzki said. “We only shot (36.5 percent) from the field and (28 percent) from (3-point range). It’s going to be tough. It’s putting a lot of strain on the defense. Our defense just wasn’t good enough. It was OK. We tried to trap DeRozan some of the time, the zone was a little effective here and there but overall not good enough.”
The Raptors also had a 55-34 advantage in rebounding.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not feel that his young team is becoming discouraged.
“I don’t think so,” Carlisle said. “The guys were really into it most of the game, then when it got to be 15 or 16 we were pretty much subbing at that point. It’s a high-character group. I don’t see that (getting discourage) being a problem. I know Dirk and Barnes are into it.”
The Mavericks led 26-25 after the first quarter, and went on a 9-0 run in the second quarter to take a 39-35 lead. The Raptors responded by scoring the next 10 points, capped by Cory Joseph’s 3-pointer.
The Raptors led 50-46 at halftime as DeRozan scored 12 points and Powell added 10 in the first half. Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 14 points in the first half.
“It was a big win for us, coming off a road trip and dropping (the final two games),” Powell said. “Our last two games we weren’t really focused and locked in. (Monday) we were just playing basketball. We weren’t out there thinking, what play to run, we got a stop and we were pushing it. Focus on getting stops on defense, not letting the defense get set by walking the ball up the court.”
DeRozan’s driving dunk with 7:48 to play in the third quarter gave the Raptors an 11-point lead.
The Raptors led 79-66 after the third quarter with Jakob Poeltl sinking two free throws with 3.7 seconds left to complete the scoring in the quarter.
VanVleet opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a pull-up jumper and the Raptors led by 15 points. Patterson bumped the lead to 18 with a 3-pointer with 7:19 to play.
Barnes scored the Mavericks’ first two points of the fourth quarter on a tip dunk with 7:04 remaining. Patterson hit another 3-pointer to put the lead at 21.