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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » NBA: Bench lift champion Dallas to first win

NBA: Bench lift champion Dallas to first win

December 31, 2011 14:27 IST

The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks beat the Toronto Raptors 99-86 on Friday for their first win of the season boosted by 56 points from their reserves.

The Mavs were the first champions to open their title defense with three consecutive losses since the Boston Celtics started the 1969 season losing four in a row.

Reserve center Ian Mahinmi sparked the Mavs with 19 points in 28 minutes of action as the bench players carried the team to victory.

"If I'm open, I'm going to shoot it. That's what coach has been telling me throughout the preseason," Mahinmi said.

"When I've got an open shot, I got to take it, which is something I've really worked on in the offseason."

Fellow reserves Jason Terry scored 18 points and former Raptor Vince Carter added 10 points. Mavs talisman Dirk Nowitzki was held to 18 points.

The Raptors trailed through much of the game until they surged ahead 68-61 in the third quarter with a 14-point run capped by a slam dunk by Amir Johnson.

The Mavericks called timeout to break the momentum and pushed back to seize the lead for good with a 16-2 run at the end of the third quarter to lead 77-70.

"It's knowing how to win, we've got to understand how to beat a championship team," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who was an assistant coach with Dallas last season.

"You work hard to get a 68-61 lead and we have to learn how to close it out. It's a mark of a young team versus a veteran team."

Andrea Bargnani led the Raptors with 30 points, and Leandro Barbosa scored 20 points.

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