TORONTO — The Dallas Mavericks felt really fortunate to get this victory.
Dirk Nowitzki had 38 points and Josh Howard made the go-ahead layup with 0.9 seconds left to give the Dallas Mavericks a 97-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
Toronto’s Morris Peterson was told not to switch off Howard and cover Nowitzki during a timeout before the decisive play. But Peterson did, allowing Howard to make a wide-open layup to give Dallas the lead. Toronto’s Anthony Parker missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We really didn’t show up until the second quarter and then we were in a dog fight,” Nowitzki said. “Obviously, we got a little lucky. They both went with me and Josh was open and made a hell of a finish.”
Nowitzki had 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals for the Mavericks, winners of 17 of their last 18 games.
Chris Bosh had 24 points and 15 rebounds, but his turnover after winning a jump ball set up the Mavericks’ last play with 6.5 seconds left. After the Mavericks inbounded the ball, Peterson converged on Nowitzki, allowing Howard to stand under the basket uncovered to receive Jason Terry’s pass.
“I found Josh wide open. He made like a receiver and it was a great play,” Terry said. “Toronto could have easily won that game.”
Toronto led nearly the entire game, with Dallas briefly taking the lead with just over two minutes left and for good on Howard’s layup.
Peterson called it a tough loss.
“We wanted this game bad. To come up short is definitely disappointing,” Peterson said. “The lesson we can take out of this game is that we can play with anybody. We took a team like Dallas down to the wire.”
The Raptors led by as many as 16, but Nowitzki scored eight straight points to start the fourth to cut the lead to three.
Toronto led by 11 at halftime.
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