A big 'W' in Dallas for Raps

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

“Some nights it’s Christmas for the other team.”

That was former Raptor Shawn Marion’s take on Toronto’s upset of the now 24-6 Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

The insinuation that the win was a gift was clear. It was also completely incorrect.

Marion, never one to think before he spoke in his brief time in Toronto, clearly isn’t analyzing the situation any better now that he’s in Dallas.

Sour grapes perhaps, but also an insult to the eight Raptors, six by game’s end, who scrapped and fought for every rebound, every point and every pivotal stop they could get.

Perhaps Marion didn’t realize the Raptors were without their leading scorer (Bargnani), top rebounder (Reggie Evans), their starting point guard and top assist man (Jose Calderon), not to mention their starting small forward (Sonny Weems).

Maybe he missed the fact that Calderon’s replacement Jerryd Bayless was playing on one good leg from about the 17:30 mark of the game until he left the game for good with 9:30 to go after going over on the same ankle he twisted in the second quarter.

Maybe he missed Linas Kleiza, at the time the team’s leading scorer in the game, getting the heave with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.

It’s all possible. We never pegged Marion for the sharpest knife in the drawer.

And those were just the obvious hurdles the Raptors had to overcome. We wouldn’t expect Marion to have done any research into his opponent and know that Amir Johnson, the Raptors starting centre, was playing with a bad back that made just walking painful, let alone banging with the likes of seven-footers Tyson Chandler or Brendan Haywood.

Nor do we expect Marion was aware that Leandro Barbosa, the guy who became the Raptors entire offence for the final six minutes of the game was a game-time decision after his knee swelled up after a fall in Memphis the night before.

But more likely it was just Marion doing his best to put a forgettable game for the Dallas Mavericks behind him.

His throwaway comment was just that. This result likely won’t hurt the Mavs in the long run. In fact, it might make them better.

But to cavalierly dismiss what those eight Raptors accomplished on Tuesday night is just wrong.

Yes, the Mavs were not on their game. They missed their own scoring leader in Dirk Nowitzki, who sat on the bench in a suit and tie nursing a sprained right knee.

But to be even close to even on the losses the Raptors were dealing with, Marion’s Mavs would have had to be missing another two starters and at least as many bench players.

There was certainly no one in the Raptors locker room who was viewing this game as any late Christmas gift courtesy of their generous hosts.

Bayless was on crutches and second-guessing his decision to go back in the game after he rolled the ankle the first time in the second quarter. But watching Johnson play through the kind of pain he was playing in — a team-high 42:28 minutes no less — Bayless admitted that kind of thing is contagious and really what else could he do but follow suit.

Davis, with career highs in both points and rebounds was icing his own ankle, although at least there were no crutches in sight.

He went over on it midway through the fourth quarter, but one look at the bench where head coach Jay Triano had exactly one healthy substitute and there was no question but to keep playing.

This was no gift and the Raptors head coach knew it.

“We’ve been struggling through injuries and guys being banged up and nicked and everything,” Triano said after the game. “Everybody in the organization needs to feel good once in a while and stay positive with these young kids.

“This is another good team, we’ve beaten Orlando in Orlando, Dallas in Dallas, and Oklahoma City and Boston at home and it shows what we’re capable of. It’s just a matter of being more consistent and that will come with the development of our youth.”

So Marion can chalk the loss as a gift if he likes, but we know the real story.

The Raptors earned this one from the opening tip to the final buzzer.


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