Toronto 121, Denver 94

TORONTO, March 23 (AP) -- George Karl called the Toronto Raptors the most talented team in the Eastern Conference after his Denver Nuggets missed their first 15 shots and lost by 27.

Morris Peterson had 23 points, Jorge Garbajosa had a career-high 22 and the Raptors never trailed in a 121-94 victory over Denver on Friday night.

"I'm really impressed by this team. They might have the best talent in the Eastern Conference,'' Karl said. "Their eight or nine guys know how to play. Detroit has probably the best starters in the league, but this team has great players. They have a chance to be a great team.''

Karl likes their unselfish style.

T.J. Ford had 14 points and 14 assists for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, who led by as many as 38. Toronto won its second straight without No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani, who is out after having an appendectomy Wednesday.

All-Star Chris Bosh agreed with Karl's assessment and said the great thing is that this is the first year the core has been together.

"It's very nice to hear,'' Bosh said.

Bosh didn't return after spraining his right ankle after landing on Denver's Reggie Evans midway through the third. Toronto led by 32 at the time.

Carmelo Anthonyhad a season-low 10 points for the Nuggets, who never recovered after missing their first 15 shots. Denver lost by one in Chicago on Thursday night.

Anthony - second in the NBA in scoring - finished 3-for-15 from the field. Allen Iverson had 14 points on 3-for-12 shooting.

"We talked about trying to hold Carmelo and A.I. to a certain amount of points, but never in my wildest dreams ... ,'' Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.

The Raptors began the game on a 12-0 run, led by 21 after the first quarter and 29 at halftime. Toronto scored 72 points in the first half, a season-high this season.

Garbajosa reached a career high by halftime with 21 points, one more than his previous best March 14 versus New York. He went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.

Toronto shot 57 percent compared to 38 percent for Denver.

The Raptors ended a five-game losing streak to the Nuggets, beating them for the first time since Dec. 30, 2003.

Nesterovic capped an 11-2 run with three-point play, giving Toronto a 38-point lead with 9:10 left in the third quarter.

Notes: Denver center Marcus Camby missed the game with back spasms. ... Bargnani has been released from the hospital. "He's going to be out as long as it takes,'' Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "He needs to get rest and recuperate.'' ... Toronto backup point guard Jose Calderon returned after missing three games with a sprained left ankle. ... Toronto's Anthony Parker has missed eight of the last 12 games with a sprained right ankle.

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