Down 21 points in the 1st quarter, but that didn't deter the Raptors as they clawed their way back in the 2nd quarter. Toronto made their final push in the 4th quarter to secure the win and get past the Dallas Mavericks, 93-85, behind a career night from DeMar DeRozan.
Toronto had lost their previous two games, and three of their last four. After losing all of those games in part due to lapses during key stretches of the game, which either put them behind big or allowed the opponent to get back into the game, the Raptors were desparate to not let it happen again. The 21 point deficit they overcame to win the game, marked their 5th largest comeback in franchise history.
Dallas Mavericks Vince Carter & Jose Calderon, two of the most popular players in Raptors franchise history, were back to face the team they had once called their own for many seasons. The reception each player receives when they return to Toronto couldn't be any more opposite. Vince is still perceived to be the 'villain' by many Raptors' faithful for the way his time with the Raptors concluded some 10 years ago. Whereas, Jose Calderon is lauded as the ultimate teammate and consummate professional. Fair or unfair, many among the Raptors' fan base are unwilling to let bygones be bygones.
Dirk Nowitzki did not play in this game, as Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle gave the veteran All-Star and former league & NBA Finals MVP the night off to rest.
Monta Ellis led Dallas in scoring this game with 21 points, but the Raptors keyed in on him as the main scoring threat, which forced Monta into committing 8 turnovers in the game. Jose Calderon added 13 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Vince Carter was relatively quiet in this game, providing 8 points and 4 assists. Brandan Wright had 13 points off the bench for Dallas.
Kyle Lowry was battling a stomach bug, and did what he could, but it clearly was affecting him, and he needed a boost from his teammates to help shoulder the load. Kyle finished the game 0-10 from the field, but managed to dish out 5 assists, and grab 4 rebounds. Despite being ill, he stuck with it and played just over 35 minutes. Toronto's Greivis Vasquez stepped up and provided 17 points off the bench, while handing out 7 assists, and recording 3 steals. Jonas Valanciunas had another solid effort, and another double-double. He finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just under 26 minutes of playing time.
This was the night that DeMar DeRozan's star shone bright! DeRozan effectively put the team on his back in this game, and delivered what would prove to be a career night. DeMar put on a show, scoring 40 points on 15-22 shooting, and 9-14 from the free throw line. He also added 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in almost 38 minutes.
Toronto is now 21-20 on the season, the official halfway point of the team's 82 game NBA regular season. They are currently in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, and sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference. Up next for the Raptors, they travel to Philadelphia for a Friday night game vs. the 76ers, and then return home to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night for Raptors Fan Appreciation Night!
(Photo Credit: Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)