Raptors going for record win as they host Mavericks
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors are opening their season at a record clip, and they will try to keep that going Friday night when they play the Dallas Mavericks, who are coming off a loss that they feel should have been a win.
The Raptors matched the club record by winning their fifth straight game to open the season Wednesday night when they defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-105. They also won their first five games to start the 2015-2016 season.
They will also be going for their fifth straight home win Friday, which would also equal the franchise record (2014-15 and 2003-04) to open a season.
The Mavericks (2-2), meanwhile, are coming off a 111-104 loss to the Hawks at Atlanta on Wednesday, a game they led by 26 points with 7:57 to play in the first half.
"They're an NBA team, you know they're going to make a run," Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith said. "But to end up losing the game is terrible on our part."
It matched the third-worst blown lead in Mavericks history.
"You always know that teams are going to make runs in this league," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "But I thought it was a lot of poor decision-making that led to the (Hawks') big run in the second quarter, and in the second half they just played harder."
The Raptors, who had 35 points from Kawhi Leonard on Wednesday, have allowed 100 or more points in each of their games. It is the first time in franchise history that the Raptors have won five games in a row while allowing at least 100 points in each game.
Toronto has scored an average of 117 points per game this season, but coach Nick Nurse also sees the defensive potential.
"There is a possibility of some defensive depth there," he said. "We have to find some right combinations a little bit. We are trying to play and wanting to get down and play it. I think there were some really good stretches, some really dominant stretches of defense, but there was also again, as any coach tells you after any game, there are some mistakes there. Mistakes that we want to clean up a little bit and get a little bit more dominant and string stops together. But yes, we have got some guys that can play D."
The Raptors have used Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas at center. Ibaka usually starts and Wednesday he had 15 points and seven rebounds while Valanciunas scored 16 points and nabbed nine rebounds.
"That is pretty good productivity out of that spot," Nurse said. "That is five good games for Serge from my standpoint. He probably deserved to come back in a little earlier, but I thought Jonas was rolling. We have talked about that too. He was having a heck a run out there, being big, making shots, doing all kinds of stuff, so he got a little bit more of an extended run."
Valanciunas has scored at least 16 points in each of the past three games, averaging 16.3 points in those games.
"My mindset is just to do good things," Valanciunas said about coming off the bench. "Win a game, win a battle. Every minute I spend on the court, I'm trying to find the battles where I can win. It's not disappointing to (come) off the bench. You can be as productive as (when) you are starting."
As for the Mavericks, there was added disappointment because they lost a chance to go two games above .500 for the first time since they finished the 2015-16 season at 42-40.
"We came out hot, making 3s, but I felt like we should have kept attacking them and getting to the rim," Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. "That's how we were getting our 3s in the first quarter."
The Mavericks know they will be facing a more difficult opponent than Atlanta when they play in Toronto. "We conversed about it with the players," Smith said. "We know we've got Toronto ahead of us, we know they've been playing really well. We'll just go out there and compete on both ends."
Smith rolled an ankle late in the game Wednesday but expects to be ready for Friday.
Forward Harrison Barnes (strained right hamstring) said he hopes to make his season debut against the Raptors.
Toronto guard Fred VanVleet (strained left big toe) did not play Wednesday but is listed as probable for Friday. Guard Delon Wright (left adductor strain) made his season debut Wednesday and played only five minutes. He is questionable for Friday.
Updated October 25, 2018