For the past two days, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle almost preached a sermon on how difficult it was going to be to defeat the Toronto Raptors.
Maybe now somebody will listen to him.
The Raptors used a balanced attack and some gritty overall play Friday night to rally from 19 points down to upset the Mavs 109-108 in overtime before a sellout crowd of 19,406 at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs, who finished this three-game homestand with a 2-1 record, are 15-11 and will play the Suns in Phoenix at 8 p.m. Saturday.
There were plenty of dark moments for the Mavericks.
The darkest moment came after Dallas flew out to a 41-22 lead over the Raptors with 8:34 remaining in the first half.
But as was the case in their Nov. 29 game at Atlanta and Dec. 11 game at Golden State, the Mavs turned into the Dallas Cowboys and found a way to turn a victory into a loss.
Against the Hawks the Mavs led by 17 before losing 88-87. And against the Warriors the Mavs led by 18 before losing 95-93.
DeMar DeRozan made a tough 16-footer over Shawn Marion for the game’s final points with 1:11 to go in overtime. After that, the Mavs had four chances to pull ahead, but missed on every opportunity.
In one trip up court, Dirk Nowitzki, who had 22 points and nine rebounds, missed a 3-pointer, ex-Raptors point guard Jose Calderon misfired on a 3-pointer, and Nowitzki followed with a step-back jumper that he missed from 11 feet.
Then, with the game on the line after the Mavs called timeout with 10.2 seconds left, an 11-footer from Monta Ellis missed its mark at the buzzer.
The Mavs were just 3-of-10 from the field in overtime, but know the game never should have gotten that far.
“We got good looks,” Carlisle said. “But at that point when you controlled the game midway through the second quarter and then you let them back into the game that quickly, you’ve given them too much confidence.
“And you bring too many other things into the equation like referees and shot-making. It’s unfortunate, but we have won some games where we have been way behind, too, so it happens in this league.”
Following its early shortcomings, Toronto zipped away on a 27-6 run to bolt ahead 49-47 with 57.3 seconds remaining before intermission.
From there, it was anybody’s ballgame as the momentum clearly had swung in the direction of the Raptors.
“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.”
And as the Mavs proved Friday, it’s hard to keep 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 maintain a huge lead],” Carlisle said. “To give up the lead that easy gave them a lot of life and they outlasted us.’’
Calderon did his part to try to make the Mavs winners.
He scored a season-high 23 points and tied a career-high with seven made 3-pointers in 10 attempts.
Ellis finished with 21 points, a season-high 11 assists and four steals, Marion collected 14 points and nine rebounds, and Brandan Wright came off the bench and finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
But individual stats took a backseat on a night the Raptors turned 17 Mavs turnovers into 32 points, and on a night when the Mavs blew another huge lead.
“Everybody in the NBA is going to make a run at some point of the game,” Calderon said. “You’ve got to be able to contain it a little bit better.”