Mavericks Stop Defending Champion Raptors To End Two-Game Skid Behind Inspired, Aggressive Kristaps Porzingis (Videos) – BlackSportsOnline
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Mavericks Stop Defending Champion Raptors To End Two-Game Skid Behind Inspired, Aggressive Kristaps Porzingis (Videos)

The Dallas Mavericks are certainly glad to be back home.

After a tough three-game road trip that saw the Mavs drop two of three, including a second loss within a week to the New York Knicks in Kristaps Porzingis’s return to New York, the Mavs were glad to be back in the confines of the American Airlines Center.

On Saturday night the Mavs welcomed the defending champion Toronto Raptors and Pascal Siakam. Siakam came into Saturday night’s game averaging 27.2 ppg, good for 8th in the NBA, and for the Mavericks the focus of their defensive efforts.

The Mavs with their own MVP candidate Luka Doncic, who has been a walking triple-double this season, came into Saturday night’s game averaging 28.2 ppg, good for 5th in the NBA this season.

In front of a sold out crowd, the Mavericks ended their two-game slide with a 110-102 win over the Raptors behind Doncic scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds and Kristaps Porzingis scoring 20 points and also having 15 rebounds.

The Mavs used a strong defensive effort during the second half, only giving up 42 points, after giving up 60 in the first half. Head coach Rick Carlisle has been consistent in his message that defensive consistency must improve for this team in order to compete night in and night out.

The defensive effort was not good early for the Mavericks, especially in their defense of the three-point line. The Raptors came out hot from the three-point stripe as the Raptors shot nearly 46% from three. The Mavs got down early 10-3 after a Norman Powell three-pointer, but the Mavericks then went on a 15-0 run to go up 5. Doncic had 14 first quarter points on 4-7 shooting and the Mavs led by 10 at the end of the first quarter.

The story in the first half was the strong defensive play against Siakam. During the first quarter the Mavericks had Maxi Kleber primarily on Siakam and the Raptors leading scorer this season was held to just 1-7 shooting in the opening frame with only 4 points. Additionally, the Mavericks held the Raptors overall to just 30% shooting, despite allowing the Raptors to shoot well from beyond the three-point line.

After a monster first quarter by Doncic, the Raptors put the defensive clamps on the star during the second quarter. Doncic only scored 1 point during the frame, and the hot shooting the Raptors displayed from three during the first quarter continued during the second quarter.

The Raptors were spearheaded by reserve Matt Thomas who wen 4-4 from the field, including 2-2 from the three-point line to have 10 points during the frame. Toronto shot nearly 55% from three using a 38 point second quarter and outscoring the Mavericks by 17 to go up 60-53 at halftime.

During the first half the Raptors went 11-22 from the three point line and in the second quarter shot nearly 61% from the field. Offensively, the Mavericks were stagnate during the second quarter, scoring only 21 points going 1-8 from three and shooting only 36% overall.

Due to poor ball movement, along with a poor defensive effort, the Mavs found themselves reverting back to the struggles defensively that has plagued this team during the early part of the season. The Mavericks at points during the second quarter became stagnant on offense as Doncic attempted to create offense without much ball movement which lead to poor execution on the offensive end. The struggles on offense for the Mavs only lead to 5 assisted field goals during the second quarter.

Things turned around for the Mavericks during the second half, especially on the defensive end, led by Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis was looking to bounce back from a tough road trip that included his return to Madison Square Garden. Porzingis, who was roundly booed during his return to New York struggled from the field and never truly got comfortable during what was a raucous atmosphere inside the Garden.

During Saturday night’s contest against the Raptors, especially during the second half, Porzingis’s defense was a catalyst for the Mavericks second half comeback. After being down by 7 at the half, the Mavs opened up the third quarter on a 12-4 run. Porzingis had 9 points on 4-7 in the third, but it was his defensive effort and intensity that sparked fast-break and transition opportunities for the Mavericks.

Porzingis talking about he and the Mavs defensive effort said,

“…for us to come out defensively and play the way we did it was definitely a great showing and that came from defense and we got some fast break points and some transition points and some good looks from three…”.

The Mavs held the Raptors to 17 points in the third quarter as the Mavs held the Raptors to 33.3% shooting and just 1-9 from the three point line. Carlisle was pleased with the defensive effort as after the game discussed that 20-25 point quarters are markers of a good defensive team. During Saturday night’s game the Mavericks had 3 quarters where they held the Raptors to 25 points or under, including the pivotal third quarter.

Porzingis’s effort on the defensive end with his ability to block and alter shots got the Mavericks into their offense more quickly allowing for much better ball movement leading to 14 points on 7-10 shooting in the paint.

The Mavericks who led by as many as 6, closed the quarter with a 1 point lead.

Going into the fourth the Mavericks looked to continue their strong defensive effort that got them the lead during the third quarter. Porzingis continued his strong second half performance bringing energy and hustle especially on the glass. Porzingis finished with 15 rebounds, with 9 of those as defensive rebounds. Although the Raptors shot 50% from three (5-10) the Mavericks held the defending champs to just 25 points in the final frame.

Dallas opened up with a quick 6-0 run to push the lead to 7 early in the fourth, the Mavs pushed the lead to as many as 11. Late in the 4th the Raptors started to pick back up their hot three point shooting they had during the first half.

Behind Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors cut the lead to 2 at 102-100. Powell during the 4th quarter hit three 3 pointers, while VanVleet scored 5 points of his own.

The Mavericks though were able to hold off the Raptors as Luka Doncic hit a beautiful floater in the lane and Seth Curry hit two free throws to push the lead back up to 6 and the Mavs never looked backed, going on to the 110-102 win.

Dallas’ defense gave Siakam problems all night as a collection of team defense and an inspired effort from Maxi Kleber held Siakam to 6-24 shooting with only 15 points.

The win brought the Mavericks to .500 on the season at home at 3-3 as they begin a four game home stand.

The Mavericks displayed much better ball movement in the second half, as they had six players in double figures, including Delon Wright who was playing against his former Raptors team as he scored 15.

For the Mavericks to be successful going forward, ball and player movement must be more consistent to keep defenses off-balance and make things easier for Doncic.

Nonetheless, the win for the Mavericks was an important one for building traction going forward.

Mavericks F Justin Jackson said after the game that the win was,

“Definitely something we needed, it’s a really good team, that just won an NBA championship, still one of the best teams in the east, you know for us coming off a couple of games where we felt like we just didn’t play well, for us to come out defensively and play the way we did it was definitely a great showing.”

Luka Doncic, who shot a game high 19 free throws, making 15 said about the team’s defensive effort,

“…everybody was there covering for each other and that’s what made our defense better.”

An important win for the Mavs against the Raptors kicks off a four game home stand that sees them hosting the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Including the Raptors, the Mavericks will face the teams that have won the last 6 NBA championships, a fact that wasn’t lost on coach Carlisle.

Carlisle was especially pleased with the way Porzingis played within team system offense and with his effort on the glass saying,

“Well I loved the way he [Porzingis] played and moved within the team system tonight…the 15 rebounds were really big, KP can walk out there and get 18 or 22 in his sleep, he’s that good of an offensive player, his presence around the basket, he only got credit for one block, but he changed some other shots and the 15 boards were huge.”

The Mavericks will look to continue bring the effort and energy defensively against DeMar Derozan and the Spurs on Monday evening.

For now, the Mavericks and a more comfortable Porzingis, who Carlisle said played his best game offensively within the system Saturday night, look to build momentum with a long home stand ahead.

The Mavericks get back on the floor Monday night at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Follow me @ctsportsradio on Twitter for continuing Dallas Mavericks coverage for BSO.

Flip the pages to see video from last night’s win including Kristaps Porzingis.

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