Shawn MarionHow’s that one saying go? Something about how it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish? That applied tonight as the Toronto Raptors caught the Dallas Mavericks flat-footed in the first quarter and jumped out to a shocking 22-3 advantage. Considering that the Raptors actually beat the Mavericks in their previous matchup in December, you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Raptors simply had the Mavs’ numbers.

Of course, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play the previous game, while this time around Dirk was in and Andrea Bargnani was out with the infamous “flu-like symptoms”. Ed Davis got the start and it looked like the Raptors were playing a lot of zone while Davis and Amir Johnson played together to compensate for their lack of size. Needless to say, it worked early on but not so much after the first six minutes of the game when the Mavs started hitting their shots.

Bargnani’s absence did seem to help the Raptors’ interior defence somewhat as they actually outscored the Mavericks in the paint, 52-46. The Mavs had the advantage in virtually every other category, however, with more three-pointers, more free throws, and fewer turnovers.

There’s no shame in losing to a team as good as the Mavericks, but it’s pretty damn annoying to see the Raptors get off to such a great start and then piss it away like that. A couple of things worth noting about this game: This was the Mavericks’ second-biggest margin of victory of the season (which is amazing considering how the game started) and the Raptors are now 1-6 this season when Bargnani is not in the lineup.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon — 35 Min,  15 Pts, 7-10 FG, 3Pt, 1-2 FT, 8 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Mavericks Player of the Game: Dirk Nowitzki — 34 Min,  31 Pts, 11-20 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 7-10 FT, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

Goat of the Game: Sonny Weems –  11 Min,  3 Pts, 1-3 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 0-0 FT, 0 Reb, 1 Ast, -14