DENVER, Nov. 11 (Ticker)
-- The Denver Nuggets shut down Vince Carter
in the fourth quarter and shut up some of the naysayers.
Vince Carter runs into a wall that is James Posey as the Raptors had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Nuggets.
William R. Sallaz/NBAE/Getty Images
got some help in holding Carter without a basket in the final period and the Nuggets pulled away for a 96-85 victory over the Toronto Raptors, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Carter was coming off a season-high 43 points in Saturday's win at Utah and the All-Star had 20 through three quarters in this one. But he managed just two free throws thereafter as Posey did a solid job of denying him the ball.
"I don't want to get into that," said Carter, who made just 6-of-21 shots.
"We played excellent defense on Vince," Nuggets coach Dan Issel said. "It took him 21 shots to score 22 points."
Guards Nick Van Exel
and Avery Johnson
took care of the offense, scoring 10 points each in the fourth. Posey also helped out with a 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets an 84-77 lead with 3:35 to go.
Van Exel followed with a jumper and Johnson made a layup for an 88-77 advantage with 2:20 remaining. The Raptors got no closer than eight points thereafter.
Van Exel had 24 points and nine assists and Posey added 13 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson scored 12 points.
"He says things out there that I don't have to say anymore," Van Exel said of Johnson. "He's been leading San Antonio for years, he's doing it for us and getting a chance to score more here. He doesn't turn the ball over. He's a blessing."
"I knew we had a good chance," Johnson said. "We had great balanced scoring. Nick is going to take over some games, but still we have to win as a team. I think I give Nick another option, not just scoring but setting up the offense and the defense and work what the coach wants out on the court."
The Nuggets have had some internal strife, with Issel and center Raef LaFrentz
involved in a disagreement and guard Isaiah Rider
on the verge of wearing out his welcome in yet another city. But Denver has won two in a row since a four-game skid.
"We have a fine line here, I'm here to make sure we take care of the little things," Johnson said. Antonio Davis
shook off a right knee injury suffered in the fourth quarter to finish with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Alvin Williams
scored 16 points for the Raptors, who fell to 1-1 on a five-game road trip.
Denver led by three points entering the fourth quarter and Van Exel made a hook and a jumper to extend to 72-66. Former Nugget Keon Clark
's three-point play pulled the Raptors within 77-73 with 6:16 to play, but Van Exel answered with a 3-pointer.
Carter's two free throws and a layup by Williams made it 81-77 with 3:57 left. Posey's 3-pointer triggered the clinching 7-0 surge. George McCloud
scored 14 points and Tariq Abdul-Wahad
and LaFrentz added 12 each for the Nuggets, who shot 40 percent (38-of-95) and held a 52-41 rebounding advantage. Denver held Toronto to 36 percent (31-of-86).
"Our defense was excellent tonight," Issel said. "Even though we only shot 40 percent, we held them to 36 percent from the field. If we play defense like this every night, we will keep ourselves in the game."
"We had great opportunities and when you're shooting 36 percent, 38 percent, that's not real good," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "Give them credit they played real well, they hustled, made big shots, they outrebounded us and we seemed to be a bit slower."
Carter scored 13 points in the first half, but Denver grabbed a 47-46 edge. The Nuggets took the lead for good at 66-65 on a jumper by Rider with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
"When teams make runs at you, you have to respond," Carter said. "They made a run in the third and we couldn't get back. The shots weren't falling, it was just one of those days. We tried to put it inside and they started doubling and when we kicked the ball out we couldn't hit our shots."