TORONTO – For yet another night on the road against a quality opponent, the Dallas Mavericks showed a tough side to themselves that’s rarely seen.
With a lot of things going against them from a physical standpoint Friday night, the Mavs displayed some grit in tripping up the powerful Toronto Raptors, 106-102, at Air Canada Centre. The game was similar to Nov. 19 when the Mavs won at Washington, 105-102, against a team which was playing some of the best basketball in the NBA at that time.
"For some reason on the road we’ve been bringing the best out of us,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. "We just got to compete at a high level all the time.
"I don’t care if it’s the starters -- or some nights the starters might be tired, then the bench got to pick it up. I always say we’re deep enough as a team to compete, and if we rebound and when we’re scraping for each other defensively we’re tough to beat.’’
Toronto came in tied with Memphis for the best record in the entire NBA at 13-2. The Raptors also sported the league’s best home record at 9-1.
None of that, however, appeared to bother the Mavs.
In playing their longest game of the season – the game lasted two hours and 39 minutes – the Mavs (12-5) snapped Toronto’s six-game winning streak. And they had to muster up whatever they could to withstand a furious rally by the Raptors (13-3), who kept firing in one haymaker after another while chopping a 15-point deficit down to two points with nine seconds remaining.
"Any time you’re in a battle like this it’s going to feel like that,’’ said Tyson Chandler, who collected 11 points and 10 rebounds. ‘You’ve got to always keep your focus, especially when it’s two teams that are not familiar with each other.
"A top of the East Coast team and us being in the West, it’s always going to be a slightly different game and it’s going to be kind of like a boxing match where you’re kind of feeling each other out.’’