The Toronto Raptors came out flat against the Dallas Mavericks losing 109-104. They were playing like they had played the night previously. There was no hustle in their game and were atrocious rebounding which is a key indicator of hustle. At half they were outrebounded 32-13. The Mavericks had almost more offensive rebounds than the Raptors had total rebounds. Midway through the second quarter they were down 16 and seemed out of it, and then things changed.
Out of nowhere, they began hitting shots, tightened up defensively and at halftime the Raptors were only down 11. If you tuned out after the first half, you missed an entertaining and close game. The Raptors came as close as 5 during the final minutes but just couldn't pull off the win.
After starting off slow, Andrea Bargnani came to life. With Jonas Valanciunas being a non factor because of foul trouble, the Raptors needed a big man to step up and Bargnani was up to the task. He finished with 25 points and an astonishing 9 rebounds. Has he finally turned the corner to once again lead the Raptors?
Kyle Lowry missed the game due to a sprained ankle and is listed as day to day. With Lowry out, Jose Calderon and Demar DeRozan needed to pick up their game to make up for the absence of Lowry. It took them a half to get going but they were effective. Demar finished with 24 points and is having an impressive start to the season. The always hustling Amir Johnson took advantage of more playing time and was a force inside and finished with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand and Shawn Marion all out for the Mavericks, this was a game that was winnable but in the end the Raptors slow start was too much to overcome. Take away that slow start they win by 10. The Raptors can't keep starting games off slowly and expect to make the playoffs. Coach Dwane Casey has more work to do but these are things you can expect from a young team. Casey said "The guys played with a purpose, I liked what I saw in the second half. Andrea and Demar played with a lot of purpose. The effort was there”. It took them a while but they finally showed their fight, that they had heart. But in basketball, you need that for the entire 48 minutes, not the final 12 minutes.