TORONTO — Despite the Mavericks’ 122-115 overtime loss against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Dallas forward Dwight Powell still left the Air Canada Centre smiling.
The Toronto native played 33 minutes against the Raptors, earning nine points, eight rebounds and two assists. But it wasn’t just his time on the court that made his night enjoyable.
“Any chance you get to play in front of people from your country and obviously I’m not representing the Raptors, but I’m representing my family and my country every time I play,” said Powell. “So to have them watch here in the arena, it’s a little boost and it gets the adrenalin going wanting to perform well for them.
“It’s just always great seeing all my friends and family in one place,” Powell said with a smile before heading back into the arena after the game to visit with his guests.
Friday’s matchup was the one and only time the Mavs play in Canada this season, and it had been so long since Powell was home that he almost forgot what March in Toronto felt like (a balmy 1 degree Celsius and snowing).
“I forgot my coat … so I had to buy a new one in New York,” he said as he pulled on his grey suede dress shoes after the game. “We had a 10 a.m. flight on our first day of the road trip, so I didn’t bring anything.”
But when he stepped on the floor of the ACC, it all came back to him and he felt right at home.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 16, 2018
But with his friends and family in the crowd cheering him on, Powell said he wanted to ensure he put on a show and sometimes that adds pressure to his performance.
“I feel like I put a lot of pressure of myself regardless, but it’s not easy for everyone that comes out to watch me to get to games [especially in Dallas], so definitely I wanted to perform well,” said Powell. “But playing here is definitely a little added pressure.”
And it wasn’t just his friends and family cheering for the Canadian. When he was announced in the starting lineup, the cheers in the ACC got louder. There were dozens of Team Canada jerseys scattered throughout the arena as well, and Canada Basketball staff were in the stands (it’s unclear if they were cheering for the Raptors or for Powell’s Mavs, but we’ll let that one slide).
And measuring by the volume of cheers in the ACC, Toronto fans love a good Canadian homecoming — especially when it ends in a Raptors win.
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