The Toronto Raptors will have to settle for an A rather than an A+ grade on their West Coast road trip.
Saturday night, Toronto fell 110-102 to the Dallas Mavericks. The Raptors were back to a starting lineup of Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol after Anunoby returned from his eye injury. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka remain on the IR.
This marked the end of a nine-day, five-game road trip which included three games in four nights. The Raptors finished the stretch 3-2, and are 8-4 overall on the season. Here are my takeaways from another hard-fought game by the Raptors.
Road Trip Recap
New Orleans Pelicans – 122-104 win
Los Angeles Lakers – 113-104 win
Los Angeles Clippers – 98-99 loss
Portland Trail Blazers – 114-106 win
Dallas Mavericks – 110-102 loss
Nice Nurse was working the officials all night and for good reason.
With 10 minutes gone in the game every starter for the Raptors had been called for a foul. Both teams made 37 field goals but the Mavericks hit 16 more shots from the charity stripe than Toronto did. Doncic alone had 19 free throws and the Raptors as a team had just 15, whereas Dallas as a team attempted 33 free throws.
Doncic dominates despite good D
Luka Doncic had 14 points in the first quarter, which is more than LeBron James (13), Kawhi Leonard (12) and Damian Lillard (9) had in an entire game versus the Raptors on this road trip.
After the first, Toronto did a good job making it tough on Doncic, with him shooting just 1-7 field goals following the early outburst. Doncic finished with 26 points, 15-19 free throws, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Most of the young phenom’s damage came from the line, though. Doncic became the first member of the Mavericks to have 19 or more free throw attempts since Dirk Nowitzki in 2011.
Pascal Siakam came into tonight playing the best basketball of his life. He left having played his worst game of the young season.
The 25-year-old was hoping to become the second player in Raptors history to score 30-plus points in six of the team’s first 12 games of a season, joining DeMar DeRozan who did it in 2016-17. It wasn’t meant to be, as Siakam really struggled in the half-court.
Even with playing a team-high 41 minutes, he only managed to grab three rebounds — a number that every Raptor who played either matched or exceeded.
The rest of his line wasn’t great as Siakam finished with 15 points, seven assists and five turnovers. Maxi Kleber was the primary defender on Siakam and held him to just 6-of-24 shooting.
Bet on Yourself and Embrace the Grind
On the plus side, the Raptors’ young backcourt continues to perform well.
Powell had 26 points — on 9-of-15 field goals and 6-of-8 three-point shooting — with six rebounds. Prior to this road trip, he had been struggling but broke out, scoring double-figures in four of the Raptors’ five games.
VanVleet had 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 4-of-11 from long-range to go along with seven assists and five rebounds, marking the 11th time he has scored in double-digits through 12 games so far this season.
No Load Management for VanVleet
Seeing Delon Wright on the opposition was a reminder of just how reliant the Raptors are on VanVleet to provide all of their point guard depth.
VanVleet’s minutes on this road trip remained high with Lowry injured as he logged 36, 38, 45, 40 and 38 minutes in the five games.
Home Advantage Coming Up
Next up, the Raptors play the Charlotte Hornets on Monday and then they play the Orlando Magic at home on Wednesday before they head back out on the road. Four of their next five, and seven of their next nine games are at home.