Big D and Dirk shine

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

DALLAS -- There's something about the Toronto Raptors that brings out the best in Dirk Nowitzki.

Not even a slow start that angered head coach Avery Johnson so much that he pulled his best player from the game just three minutes in could keep this guy from doing what he does best. From a Toronto perspective that has to be crush any Raptors uprising.

Nowitzki was having, for him, an ordinary evening through the first half with just six points on three-of-seven shooting from the field. He had two rebounds in the first 24 minutes but matched that with a pair of turnovers. He had also left Andrea Bargnani wide open beyond the arc for an early three that definitely got Avery's attention.

Whatever he drank, ate, or had told to him at halftime clearly got his attention.

Nowitzki's 18 points in the third quarter turned a game the Raptors had under firm control over to the home team which never looked back in a 105-99 win.

From the six-minute mark of the second quarter to the 11:40 mark of the fourth, the Mavericks went on a 57-23 run. Twenty of those 57 points came from Nowitzki alone turning a 24-point Raptors lead into a 10-point Mavs cushion.

"That third quarter just did us in," Raps coach Sam Mitchell said. "(Chris Bosh) was much better tonight and Andrea was better. We had some positive things and we have to build on that. We weren't trapping those screen and rolls in the third quarter for whatever reason. Some of the guys came in and we didn't trap. Those were the breakdowns. We said we were going to trap, we have to trap." Overshadowed by another dominant Nowitzki performance against the Raptors -- his 32 points were a season high -- was the re-emergence of Bosh.

Bosh, like Nowitzki, enjoyed a season-high of his own with 31 points. He just didn't get to enjoy it as much.

"Yeah, I've seen this before," Bosh said in reference to a 24-point lead the Raptors had on the Mavs in a game two seasons ago that they let slip away.

"The Mavericks are a good team and they don't quit. We were supposed to do a better job of trapping Jason Terry and making that kickback pass to Dirk tougher but against a good team like that if you don't execute the right way every time, they are going to make you pay and (Nowitzki) got a couple of wide open looks and he got hot."

Bosh got something out of the game.

"I feel like I definitely turned a corner," Bosh said. "We just have to turn the corner as a team."

T.J. Ford took a knee to the chest on a Josh Howard drive late in the third quarter and had to leave the game. It was diagnosed as another stinger or burner, the second one he has had in the past eight months.

Ford said the pain running down his arms was starting to subside by game's end, but he wasn't sure if he would be able to play tonight in Memphis.


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