TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors will try to equal a team record of 11 straight wins Friday night when they play the Dallas Mavericks at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors stretched their winning streak to 10 games Thursday night when they rallied in the second half for a 106-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers. They have won 17 of their past 18 games.
It was a club-record eighth road win in a row for the Raptors (51-17), who will be completing a set of back-to-back games Friday. On Thursday, the Raptors trailed at the half and used a 16-4 surge in the fourth quarter to take the lead from the Pacers.
“When things aren’t going our way, we don’t let the adversity get to us,” said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 24 points. “Once we got the lead, we understand when to push the ball, how to push the ball, get stops, get the momentum. We understand the small things that occur in a game and we try to use that to our advantage.”
“To be successful in this league, you have to have grit,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s something our guys have developed. As long as we have that grit and togetherness, we’ll be OK.”
The Raptors played Thursday without guard Norman Powell (sprained left ankle) and forward OG Anunoby (sprained right ankle). Dallas guard J.J. Barea is listed as questionable for the game Friday because of a strained left rib muscle.
The Mavericks defeated the Raptors 98-93 on Dec. 26 in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Dallas (22-46) is in the beginning of a rebuilding phase but has played decently of late in going 4-4.
“We keep playing hard,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “There’s obviously some teams that’s going for some losses now, and we’re one of the teams that still want to win and see where we end up in the draft. We’re still playing, we want to have a winning culture for our young guys and show them how to play, and the work ethic and how to play to win. So that is very important to us.”
“The best way to get better is to get wins and to have guys getting that experience,” said Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes, who scored 30 points Tuesday in the 110-97 win over the New York Knicks that was highlighted by a 19-0 run in the third quarter.
In their win at Indianapolis, the Raptors trailed 57-49 at halftime. Casey would like to see his team open games better overall, although he did expect a tough, physical game against the Pacers.
“Right now, our disposition to start the game is not good,” Casey said Tuesday after the 116-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who scored 40 first-quarter points. “The starters have to come out with a better disposition, a hungrier mentality and understand they’re going to get the best teams’ shots. We can’t play our way into the game and put taxing minutes on our bodies trying to come back.”
Many times, the bench has excelled to make up for a slow start.
“That’s why we’re starting, to start a game out the right way,” starting point guard Kyle Lowry said. “We’ve got to find ways to just be a little bit more assertive, aggressive and just be a better communicating team. I think that will solve a lot of issues.”
The Mavericks will be playing the second game of a four-game trip when they meet the Raptors.
“I know that we were probably going to hit a lower point,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s just part of the cycle of the NBA. … Yeah, you take a lot of losses. That part is no fun. But to accomplish this, which is going to take time, it’s going to be a difficult task and it has to be handled the right way. But when we get there, it will be one of the most meaningful things that I’ve been involved with.”
The Raptors, who have the best home record in the NBA at 28-5, have scored at least 100 points in a club-record 21 consecutive games, surpassing the mark set Jan. 6-Feb. 20, 2010