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Raptors silence Thunder to set franchise record
It was an impressive win all around for the Raptors, who never gave up despite never looking truly in sync as they won a franchise-record fifth straight to start the season.
canchallena.com y thestar.com
Raptors beat Mavs for first 4-0 start in team history
The eye-popping one was the corner three in the final two minutes, a dagger of a jump shot that put an exclamation point on the night Luis Scola became a true Raptors fan favourite.
Only four games into his Toronto career, the 35-year-old Argentine delivered a win on a night about half the rotation struggled, leading the Raptors to a gritty 102-91 win over the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center.
Scola finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, supplying a much-needed punch to bail out absent teammates as the Raptors move to 4-0 on the season, the first four-game winning streak to open a year in franchise history.
Kyle Lowry was also remarkable with 27 points, 10 assists five rebounds and three steals as Toronto held Dallas to 18 points with a solid defensive fourth quarter.
The Raptors held Dallas to just 27 per cent shooting in the decisive fourth quarter, once again tightening the screws at the most vital time.
“Happy, not satisfied,” was how coach Dwane Casey felt about his defence before the game. “I still think we have some growth to go with our defence . . . it’s much better than it has been, over last year at this point it’s much better.”
Toronto held Dallas to just 38 per cent shooting and forced 16 turnovers with a defence that’s become the team’s calling card.
“Toronto’s a really high-level team, they’re giving up 39 per cent from the field and 31 per cent from three,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said before the game.
“A fair question would be how are we going to score on these guys? Right now, they’re not giving up much.”
Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points, Deron Williams had 13 and Toronto native Dwight Powell added 10 for the Mavs.
Before the game, discussing the sublime Nowitzki and where he is in his Hall of Fame career, Casey responded to a tongue-in-cheek reference to Nowitzki’s defence by saying, “well, he is seven-feet tall” because defence is not his carrying card at all.
And then the Raptors proved the point by repeatedly posting up whoever Nowitzki was guarding for most of the night.
The main beneficiary was Scola, who had 12 of his points in the first half, mainly when he was being guarded by Nowitzki.
Toronto needed that offensive production because DeMar DeRozan was a non-factor in a foul-plagued first half in which he played only seven minutes.
DeRozan picked up two fouls in the first 3 ˝ minutes of the game, sat until the start of the second quarter and lasted about the same amount of time before fouling again to finish a four-point first half.
He did come back to score 16 points in the second half and had nine in the fourth quarter to at least make a significant contribution.
The same could not be said for about half of the Toronto regulars, who came up flat to varying degrees.
Patrick Patterson missed all six shots he took on a scoreless night, Terrence Ross celebrated a lucrative contract extension by having more fouls (five) than points (four) in 23 minutes and DeMarre Carroll was uncharacteristically quiet with just three points.
With the win, Casey not only moves one more game ahead of Sam Mitchell as the winningest coach in Raptors history but he now has a 158-158 all-time record, the only Toronto coach with as many wins as losses.
“He has been a major factor in rebuilding this team and now they’re a perennial 48- to 50-win team and in the playoffs and they’re still young,” Carlisle said.
“He’s done a phenomenal job and I’m happy for him but I’m not surprised.”
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Raptors coach Dwane Casey still has one crucial decision to make
Casey insists it’s not a “competition” as much as it is “fit” that will determine who starts alongside Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas when things start for real Oct. 28.