Raptors take on short-handed Mavericks

NBA Basketball

The Toronto Raptors will try for their third straight win Monday night when they play the Dallas Mavericks in the middle game of a stretch of five consecutive contests at their temporary home in Tampa, Fla.

The Raptors, who have struggled early in the season, defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday and Saturday to open their homestand and have four wins in 12 games. The margin of victory was three points in each game against the Hornets, who missed the potential tying shot in both of them.

The undermanned Mavericks are 6-6 after losing their second consecutive game Sunday, 117-101 at home to the Chicago Bulls.

Luka Doncic, the Mavericks’ 21-year-old guard, passed Michael Jordan on the career list with his 29th triple-double, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists. Doncic is tied with Grant Hill for 15th in triple-doubles.

The Mavericks are missing five rotation players because of COVID-19 protocols and guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is out with a left groin strain.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse was pleased to get the victories against the Hornets, but said he felt there was considerable room for improvement.

“You know, I keep saying the same thing over and over. There’s some stretches of really good basketball and the stretches that aren’t so good cannot be as not so good as they were (Saturday),” Nurse said. “Those have to be average or slightly below and I thought we dipped a lot: Some great segments, some really poor segments. Probably our really good basketball segments weren’t as long (Saturday) as they have been in the last three or four games.”

One encouraging development for the Raptors Saturday was the play of struggling Norman Powell, who came off the bench to score 24 points and match his career-best six 3-pointers.

“I know 24 is a big night, we know he’s capable of that, that’s what we need, we need his punch, 15 or so off the bench,” Nurse said. “We’re going to need that offense, keep the offense ticking over with the second unit.”

Another bench player, Chris Boucher, continued his strong play with 20 points and nine rebounds. Boucher’s emergence has been vital because of the poor play of Aron Baynes, who was lifted after four minutes and 20 seconds and did not return.

“I know we’re not getting very much out of (Baynes) at this point,” Nurse said. “We read the game, you know. He’s almost like a reserve now. His stint is going to last as long as things are going well, or he’s impacting well.”

Doncic had 30 points in the first half on Sunday, although the Mavs were already trailing by 15 by halftime.

“The second half, I played terrible,” he said, alluding to his six points on 2-for-11 shooting. “I was being selfish a little bit because I had 30 points in the first half. That wasn’t me in the second half.”

Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points for the Mavericks. In addition to Hardaway, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson were out because of health and safety protocols.

Hardaway is listed as day to day. “We don’t think it’s serious,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

Brunson could return to the lineup Monday.

The game Monday will be the second of five games in seven days for the Mavericks — including three on the road — in what Carlisle called “the most challenging” week of the season.

“We’re very depleted, so we’re just going to have to be really tied together,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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