for this game

Third quarter comeback lifts Mavericks past Raptors

Nov 21, 2007 - 5:50 AM By Royce Wall PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DALLAS (Ticker) - The Dallas Mavericks got off to a slow start on Tuesday, but it's how a team finishes that matter in the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 32 points and the Mavericks erased a 24-point deficit to earn a 105-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.

Devin Harris scored 19 points and Josh Howard added 15 for Dallas, which has won four in a row and seven of its last eight games.

Chris Bosh scored 31 and Andrea Bargnani added 20 for Toronto .

Nowitzki scored 18 points in the decisive third quarter, including nailing four consecutive 3-pointers in the final 1:41 of the frame.

"The second half was great," Nowitzki said. "If I'm going to be open, I'm going to shoot it. I don't think I was shooting the ball real well here early in the season, but the team is going to stay confident in me and I'm going to stay confident. I'm going to keep shooting.

"(Jason Terry) kept looking for me. He came off the screen-and-roll and passed it back every single time and I had some good looks and I was able to knock it down."

The All-Star forward pulled the Mavericks even at 70-70 with his first 3-pointer and gave the team its first lead since a 2-0 advantage with his second 3-pointer to make it 73-70.

"For a shooter it only takes one shot," Nowitzki said. "I just needed that first three to go down. I was having trouble with that three ball for the last however many games, so when one goes in your confidence goes up."

It took just 2:36 for Toronto to take a 10-2 lead against the Mavericks, with second-year forward Bargnani scoring half of the points.

Bargnani scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, to give the Raptors a 31-19 lead after one quarter.

Toronto outscored Dallas, 18-6, to begin the second quarter and built its lead to 49-25 with 5:58 remaining in the half. Jose Calderon scored six points and capped the run with a pair of long jump shots.

"We were down 20, they were all over us," Nowitzki said. "We couldn't guard them."

Just when it looked like the Raptors had their foot firmly on the gas pedal, the Mavericks showed some life.

Dallas responded with a 12-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes to cut the deficit to 49-37. Harris scored 10 points during the run and 14 in the quarter to send the Mavericks into the locker room with a more manageable 55-41 deficit.

"Obviously tried to spark the team a little bit," Harris said. "Called my number a little bit to get me going. Getting some buckets going to the basket and making some free throws. We just tried to chip the lead as much as we could."

"They just jumped on Devin Harris' back," Bosh said. "He set the tone pretty good. He sparked that run. He really kept them in the game in that second quarter."

Toronto shot 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from the 3-point line in the opening half while Dallas shot just 45 percent (17-of-38) overall and 20 percent (2-of-10) from the arc.

"They got whatever they wanted in the first half," Nowitzki said. "They drove to the basket and we didn't get there. We knew if we picked up the defense we could get back into the game."

The Mavericks opened the third quarter with an 18-6 run and cut the lead to 61-59 with 5:37 left when Josh Howard connected on a pair of free throws.

"It was great for us to come back," Nowitzki said. "The crowd was a little anxious with us in the first half so I thought we just had to pick up our energy."

After the Raptors pushed their lead back to 68-61 on Anthony Parker's 3-pointer with 3:21 left in the quarter, the Mavericks ended the third with an 18-4 run - capped by Nowitzki's 3-pointers - to take a 79-72 lead.

"He comes off that screen hard, he comes off fast," Bosh said. "By the time you look up, if you don't play him just right, he's going to get a wide-open look like he did. By the time we got a hand in his face he let it go, and even if you do play better defense, he had a couple that went in.

"He's a great shooter. He showed why he's an All Star in this league."

The zone defense Dallas used at the start of the third quarter caused some confusion for the Raptors shooters, causing the visitors to shoot just 38.9 percent (7-of-18) in the quarter.

"It's a new wrinkle we throw in," Harris said. "We've been practicing it a little bit. We threw it in at a great time and really threw a wrench in what they were doing."

"We were kind of passive," Bosh said. "We should have been aggressive just like we were against their man-to-man. The middle was wide open. We should have done a better job of recognizing that. When they play a zone, for some reason, when you get that pass in the middle, guys don't want to shoot it as quickly. They want to move the ball. We still have to be aggressive. When we turn and have a 15-foot jump shot, we have to take it."

Raptors point guard T.J. Ford suffered a stinger to his neck at 5:38 in the third quarter when he fouled Howard driving to the basket. He is day-to-day.

"It feels like when you hit your funny bone," Ford said. "That's the best way I can describe it. It's calming down already."

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