Coming off a resounding feel-good win over the Philadelphia 76ers on the road Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks looked to be well on their way to another one against the Toronto Raptors, as they shook off a sluggish 0-of-11 start from the field and built a 30-point lead in the third quarter.
But then, all of a sudden, disaster struck, as Kyle Lowry and the Raptors caught fire and miraculously came all the way back to win the game, 110-107.
"“It’s on me,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of the collapse.
Toronto out-scored the Mavs 47-21 in the fourth quarter, due in large part to Raptors head coach Nick Nurse employing a full-court press defense that the Mavs just couldn't figure out. It was the biggest comeback win in Raptors franchise history and also the biggest blown lead in Mavs franchise history.
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Despite how well the Raptors played down the stretch, the Mavs still had an opportunity to steal the win late. Kristaps Porzingis' clutch free throws put the Mavs up 107-106 with 32 seconds left, but the Raptors regained the lead seven seconds later on a Chris Boucher dunk. Down 108-107 with 18 seconds left, the Mavs had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but the rim was unkind to Jalen Brunson's open mid-range jumper, and that was that.
"We kind of folded under pressure,'' KP said.
All five Mavs starters had double-digit scoring nights, with Porzingis and Brunson leading the way. Porzingis put up 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in 36 minutes. Brunson scored 21 points to go with his nine assists and four rebounds in 34 minutes. Toronto native Dwight Powell pitched in with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. tallied 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, despite shooting just 6-of-19 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep.
The Mavs, now 19-10 on the season, will have a long time to sit and think about this one while they await a home matchup with the San Antonio Spurs the day after Christmas. Although Carlisle wouldn't say if Luka Doncic would be back for that game or not, he certainly left open that possibility.
"The group of games after Christmas is definitely in play," said Carlisle before the game. "But nothing has been determined yet."
That will be good news for another day. But on this day? Bad news. In a record-setting manner.