How it happened: The Mavs fell in a trap.
They came out flat for a game against a bad Eastern Conference club sandwiched between meetings against Western Conference contenders. The Mavs’ only lead was 1-0 in the opening moments.
This loss can’t just be blamed on missing Dirk Nowitzki, although the Mavs certainly could have used the MVP candidate’s shooting touch. (Of course, Toronto could say the same about Andrea Bargnani.) The Mavs simply played too soft to beat even a subpar opponent.
Consider points in the paint to be exhibit A. The Raptors had a 48-24 advantage, which is absolutely ridiculous.
Toronto also whipped the Mavs on the glass. A team outrebounded by a 42-35 margin at home doesn’t deserve to win.
And the Mavs’ offense was absolutely atrocious. They matched a season high for fewest points scored while shooting only 41.3 percent from the floor and 22.7 percent from 3-point range.
The Mavs played like a team that expected to be able to mail in a win. The result was the Mavs’ second loss in the last 19 games, a whipping at the hands of the 11-20 Raptors.
What it means: The Mavs won’t catch the Spurs in the West standings any time soon. While the Mavs were losing to a lesser foe, the Spurs were dominating the Lakers in San Antonio. The Spurs will bring a 2 ½-game lead to Dallas.
Play of the game: With the Mavs desperately in need of a spark, Tyson Chandler set a pick for Jason Kidd at the left elbow and rolled to the basket. Kidd threw the lob, which Chandler caught with two hands and threw down hard despite taking a two-armed forearm shiver from Raptors forward Amir Johnson. Just like that, there was life in the American Airlines Center crowd again, although it didn’t last long.
Stat of the night: The Raptors ended a 10-game losing streak in Dallas. Toronto had never won at the American Airlines Center.