Raptors gunned down

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

DALLAS -- The Mavericks were missing their big guns last night but still had enough ammunition to defeat the Raptors.

Losers of three in a row, the Mavs limped into last night's game minus their three top scorers -- Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Jerry Stackhouse -- but managed to stand tall and defeat the Raptors 113-105 in front of 19,509 supporters at the American Airlines Center.

The loss ended a four-game road swing through the U.S. south for the Raptors, who head home today with a 1-3 record on the trek and 25-35 mark overall. The Mavs improved to 39-20.

Both teams shot over 50% from the field, but the Mavericks dominated in the paint, outscoring Toronto 54-44. The Raptors also committed 17 turnovers, while Dallas also had 13 steals. None of those stats sat well with head coach Sam Mitchell.

"Every time we turned the ball over, they got a fast break. And we're stopping and complaining at the referees when we don't get calls," Mitchell said, shaking his head, adding that the Raptors lagged on defence once again and did not run with the ball enough. "No one guarded anyone."

The Mavs got a big game from forward Keith Van Horn, who was picked up on Feb. 24 from the Milwaukee Bucks. Van Horn, who started in place of Nowitzki, was acquired to give the Mavs scoring off the bench. The trade paid off in spades yesterday as he contributed 19 to the Dallas cause and did a great job guarding the Raptors' Chris Bosh, who was playing in front of about 150 friends and family in his hometown. The Mavs double- and even triple-teammed Bosh, who scored just 13 after picking up a career-high 33 on Sunday in New Orleans.

Van Horn's frontcourt mate Josh Howard also had a big game as a fill-in starter, scoring 22 with eight rebounds, while guard Marquis Daniels had 32.

Morris Peterson had a strong game for Toronto, despite wearing a brace to protect a sore left knee. MoPete attacked the basket all night and was rewarded with 11 trips to the free-throw line. He picked up 23 points.

PETERSON CUT

Peterson was forced to leave the game early in the second half to attend to a cut on his head suffered when he went down hard after being elbowed by Daniels. Peterson was fed a nice pass in the paint from Rafer Alston, made the layup and then the free throw. Point guard Milt Palacio had a big game with 19 points while Jalen Rose picked up 16 and rookie forward Matt Bonner had 13.

"It's disappointing, to me it's a broken record," Rose said of the loss. "I'm tired of talking about the same old stuff. I want us to be a team that improves on the mistakes that we're doing and unfortunately right now we're not getting it done."


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