It took the Dallas Mavericks a while to get going, but when they did, the Toronto Raptors just didn't have an answer.
Well, that was until the fourth quarter when the Raptors erased a 30-point deficit to defeat Dallas by a final score of 110-107.
Kyle Lowry led the way with a game-high 32 points, 20 of which came in the fourth period. Chris Boucher added a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with a season-high 18 points and nine rebounds in the win.
Helluva win. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/p9WfyHkhYh- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 22, 2019
Kristaps Porzingis was once again solid in the absence of Luka Doncic, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double - the longest streak of his career.
Here are 10 thoughts from the Raptors' huge comeback win:
1. Afternoon games are weird
3:30 p.m. eastern starts usually only happens in the playoffs and even then it's weird. Both teams struggled in the first five minutes of the game. There was no rhythm and lots of sloppy play. Toronto was missing shots and passes it would normally connect on and Dallas didn't score at all until the 6:43 mark of the first period.
Afternoon games are just weird.
2. Nick Nurse is at it again...
Toronto was on its way to being blown out until Nick Nurse went Nick Nurse again.
Down 23 points at the start of the fourth period, Nurse decided to go with a full-court press to try and change the momentum of the game - he did. Toronto battled back to tie the game at 95 with a 42-12 run.
Nurse went with a lineup of Lowry, Hollis-Jefferson, Malcolm Miller, Chris Boucher and Terrence Davis. One bonafide All-Star, a rookie and three undrafted players.
Often times it's said that with a superstar on your team, you're never truly out of it. The saying should be changed to with Nick Nurse, you're never truly out of it.
3. So you're telling me there's a chance...
The Athletic's Tim Cato pointed out that the Mavericks had a 99.9% chance of winning Monday's game midway through the third quarter.
damn. the mavericks really played half of the third quarter with a win probability of 99.9% and still lost pic.twitter.com/LM17J9fIhD- Tim Cato (@tim_cato) December 22, 2019
Cue Lloyd Christmas.
4. 3-point shooting
Only the Houston Rockets take more 3-pointers per game than the Mavericks. Only the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat guard the 3-point line better than the Raptors.
Something had to give heading into Monday's game.
Dallas hit at least 14 3s for the seventh straight game on Monday. Toronto couldn't stop the Mavericks' long game and couldn't hit a three of its own ... until the explosion in the fourth quarter.
Toronto went 6-for-9 from long range and Dallas went just 1-for-10 in the final frame.
Remember when we said afternoon games are weird?
5. Run Raptors run
The Raptors got out and ran on their first two buckets, but failed to set that tone for a large part of the game on Monday ... until the fourth-quarter explosion, once again.
Toronto finished the game with 17 fastbreak points.
With so much of the offensive production sitting on the bench in tailor-made suits, the Raps need to continue to get easy looks. Their fastbreak output has to be close to their league-leading season average of 19.2 per game if they plan on weathering the storm with the majority of their scoring sidelined.
6. Battle of Canadian big men
Chris Boucher was playing Dwight Powell like there was a spot on the Canadian National Team up for grabs. Boucher was pushing, bumping and being ultra physical any time he was matched up against Powell.
He finished with a career-high 21 points, seven rebounds and four key blocks. Boucher was instrumental in the big comeback with his energy and effort.
https://t.co/Y6FPDLV41E pic.twitter.com/FhHrp3K0d1- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 22, 2019
Neither Powell nor Boucher are locks for the National Team when they get together to try and qualify for the Olympics in June, but Boucher gave Nick Nurse plenty to chew on Monday.
7. Porzingis half-court buzzer-beaters
Dallas had done this twice before.
Dallas set up their end of half play to try and get Porzingis a clean look from the logo. In a game earlier this year against the Minnesota Timberwolves, they used Luka Doncic as a decoy and Porzingis had a good look from the logo.
They used it again against the Heat and this time Porzingis drilled it.
Well, they did it again on Monday. This time Porzingis had to use an up fake and put the ball on the ground to free himself up for a look, but he was able to splash it home.
Whenever best coaches in the league are brought up, Rick Carlisle and Eric Spoelstra often get omitted. The little things matter, and Carlisle has shown year in and year out that he gets it right.
He did it again! 🔥@kporzee | #MFFL pic.twitter.com/McLuDxNQIK- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 22, 2019
8. Porzingis rim protection
Porzingis was one of the league's best rim protectors before he got hurt with the New York Knicks. His offence is coming along nicely as he's still learning how to be the second option behind MVP candidate Luka Doncic, but his defence is already back to where it once was.
Coming into Monday's game, Porzingis has only allowed opposing players to shoot 45.6% within six feet of the rim. In his three prior outings, he's reduced that number to just 28.6%.
He was stingy again against Toronto, coming away with two blocks and altering a bunch of other point-blank looks.
If Dallas wants to make a deep playoff run, they'll need Porzingis to continue to set the tone defensively.
9. Porzingis MIA in the clutch...
As much praise as we just gave Kristaps Porzingis, we have to point out that he absolutely disappeared when the game was on the line.
Porzingis attempted two shots in the final five minutes of the game, going 0-for-2 from the field. One of those shots was a desperate heave at the end of the game that had no chance of being made. While he did make two big free throws to give Dallas a 107-106 lead, he floated in crunch time and took a back seat to Jalen Brunson, who looked to be more aggressive down the stretch.
Without Luka Doncic in the lineup, the Maverick obviously lack a closer, but if you have a player of the calibre of Porzingis on the team, you can't have him standing by as Brunson takes more shots than him when the game is in the balance.
10. Up next...
Toronto will have to put this win behind it quickly as it heads to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Tuesday.
The Pacers, who are still without Victor Oladipo, are one of the hottest teams in the NBA having won five straight.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.