(The Sports Xchange) - Coming off the best regular season in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors are 4-0 for the first time ever.
Kyle Lowry scored 27 points, and the Raptors remained undefeated by topping the Dallas Mavericks 102-91 at American Airlines Center.
“We are off to great start,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said, “but we have to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.”
The Raptors rode a 12-0 burst in the fourth quarter to take control in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The quick start is not going to the heads of a young squad that won 49 games last season.
“We just want to go out there and win every opportunity we get,” Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan said. “The previous games don’t matter, but the one that we got next (does). That’s how we’re treating this season.”
The Mavericks (2-2) dropped their home opener after going 2-1 on a West Coast road trip. Dallas, who swept Toronto last season, held a halftime lead and were up by four points midway through the final period.
Lowry shot nine-for-15 from the floor, including four-for-five from beyond the three-point line, and added 10 assists. He also had three steals and two blocks in 37 minutes.
“He has been real solid for us and is showing amazing leadership qualities,” Casey said. “He is a very tough kid. He got big stops for us. It’s early in the season, and we will be very mindful to try and keep him fresh for this long season.”
DeRozan battled back from early foul trouble to score 20 after logging just seven minutes in the first half.
The Raptors made 23 of 26 free throws, with Lowry sinking all eight of his foul shots.
Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 but had only five points in the second half. Deron Williams scored 13 on four-of-15 shooting, and Dallas shot only 38.4 percent.
”We have gotten back to defense,“ Casey said. ”That’s what it takes to get to get wins in this league. It takes defensive commitment from every player on the team.
“When the offense is not clicking for us, it’s going to be our defense that keeps us in the game, and hopefully our offense will come around.”
The Raptors’ 12-point spurt turned an 86-82 deficit into a 92-86 advantage. Luis Scola (19 points and 12 rebounds) hit the team’s only other three-pointer beside the four from Lowry during the game-turning surge.
The Raptors finished the game with a 20-5 run.
“They made it more their type of game: physical, grinding, lot of physical contact,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
“They turned it into a boxing match, and we needed to have it be a basketball game. We need to be a little tougher overall at both ends.”
The Mavericks made up a nine-point, first-quarter deficit to take a 51-49 lead into halftime. A 19-4 run highlighted by two three-pointers from Nowitzki put Dallas up 39-33.
Nowitzki had 13 points in the first half on four-for-4fourshooting.
Toronto conclude their first back-to-back of the season on Wednesday at Oklahoma City.
The Mavericks’ three-game homestand continues on Thursday against the Charlotte Hornets.
Compiled by Peter Rutherford