On a night the Toronto Raptors looked headed for their worst loss of the season, they recorded their greatest comeback in franchise history.
Kyle Lowry scored 20 of his 32 points in a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback Sunday and the Raptors roared back from a 30-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-107, topping their previous best comeback of 25 points.
Lowry added 10 assists and eight rebounds and, with a couple of minutes to play, the capacity crowd of 19,800 fans Scotiabank Arena broke into chants of “Low-ry! Low-ry!”
Montreal’s Chris Boucher scored a career-high 21 points, including a huge dunk in the dying seconds. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 18 points for the undermanned Raptors (21-8), who were playing without Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder).
Jalen Brunson had 21 points for the Mavericks (19-10), who were missing star guard Luka Doncic for the fourth consecutive game (ankle). Toronto native Dwight Powell added 17 points.
Toronto’s largest comeback before Sunday came when it erased a 25-point deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons 120-116 on Dec. 11, 2010.
It’s also the first comeback in the NBA of 30 or more points since Dec. 21, 2009, when the Sacramento Kings overcame a 35-point hole to beat the Chicago Bulls 102-98.
Dallas has been one of the best road teams this season, going 11-2 before arriving in Toronto. The Raptors played the gracious host for most of the afternoon. The Raptors had an early 12-point lead, but without any sustained energy on either side of the court, saw that quickly evaporate. When Powell slashed to the rim for a layup late in the third quarter, the Mavericks went ahead by 30.
Trailing 86-63 to start the fourth, the Raptors finally showed some life. They chipped away at the deficit and when Lowry drilled a three-pointer with 8:05 to play, glancing over at the Dallas bench as the ball dropped, the Raptors were within 10 points.
Lowry’s heroics continued, and when he dropped a shoulder and drove to the hoop for a layup with 5:59 to play, it was a two-point game. Back-to-back three-pointers by the all-star point guard had the Raptors up by five with 3:05 to play. It was Lowry again with a layup with 1:18 to play to give Toronto a four-point cushion.
A pair of Kristaps Porzingis free throws had Dallas up by a point, but Boucher took flight for an emphatic dunk with 19 seconds to play to put the Raptors back up. Bunson’s shot with two seconds left bounced off the rim, then Boucher headed to the line for a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
Powell, who has said he’d love to play for Canada in Olympic qualifying in June in Victoria, had numerous family and friends in Scotiabank Arena for his hometown game.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle spent a couple of days in Toronto working with Powell last summer.
“He is one of the ultimate competitors in this whole league. He just goes hard all the time. He is a relentless worker,” Carlisle said. “He loves Toronto. He’s up here in the summer time and I know it is always special for him to come back.”
The Raptors, who lost 110-102 in Dallas on Nov. 16, raced out to an early 12-point lead. The Mavericks shot just 21.7 per cent in the quarter, but started to find their shooting groove toward the end of the frame, and pulled to within 20-17 heading into the second.
Toronto struggled mightily in the second quarter, connecting on just one of seven shots from behind the arc. Porzingis’s three with just under four minutes left in the half capped a 16-2 Mavericks run that put the visitors up by eight points.
The Mavs had possession for just 4.1 seconds to end the half, but Porzingis still managed to launch a 30-footer at the buzzer, and Dallas headed into halftime with a 51-42 lead.
The Raptors are in Indianapolis against the Pacers on Monday, then return home to host the Boston Celtics on Christmas day.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press