Toronto managed to stick with the hot shooting Nuggets throughout most of the first two quarters, but a four-minute Denver flurry before the break seemed to turn the tide.
Deadlocked at 61-61, the Nuggets went on a 13-4 run with 4:17 to play, as Nene hit three times from close range during that span and Al Harrington drilled a three with 37.9 seconds to play in the half. That gave the Nuggets a 74-65 lead at halftime and the Raptors were trailing the rest of the way.
With Carmelo Anthony sidelined, Al Harrington stepped up off the bench with a monster game of 31 points (12-19 FGM-A), including six three-pointers, six rebounds, three assists and helped with strong defence on Andrea Bargnani in the last three quarters.
Harrington was particularly devastating in the final frame when the Raptors mounted a late charge. The veteran just made timely buckets to keep the Raptors at bay -- scoring on all four of his shots from the field with two three-pointers down the stretch.
LInas Kleiza came up very big in his first appearance against his former team. The versatile forward and former Nugget of four seasons shook off a recent slump and had his best night as a Raptor with 26 points (11-16 FGM-A) with four of five makes from long distance and a game-high 12 boards.
Turnovers remain somewhat of a concern with three on the night, but Kleiza appeared much more confident and decisive with the ball in his hands and played with a definite chip on his shoulder.
"The had a lot of mismatches tonight. I thought when Chauncey got two fouls on Bayless, meaning we'd have to play him with a guy who is a non-natural point guard and that hurt us. Our forwards couldn't stay with Al Harrignton at all. He just drove past them. He used his quickness and they spread the floor. So they went with a smaller lineup and we had to try and match that. We can't play defence for half a game and I thought the second half we attempted, and that's all I ask from these guys, to attempt to play." - Jay Triano, on the defence Friday.
Sat., Dec. 11 vs. Pistons
7:30 PM ET, TSN, FAN590
The Raptors need to figure out how to play without Jose Calderon in a hurry as he won't travel with the team to face the Pistons (7-16), who have dropped three straight and eight of their last 10 games overall. Toronto swept the season series 4-0 last season, but historically has had problems with Detroit with a 17-40 all-time record.
|1000||Career victories for Nuggets head coach George Karl|
|74||1st-half points allowed by Toronto, setting a new franchise record at home for an opponent|
|12||Number of three-pointers allowed by the Raptors|
|3||Career double-doubles for Linas Kleiza after Friday's effort|
|15||20+ point scoring efforts for Andrea Bargnani this season|
|“They are a very good team, a very athletic team and they have mismatches in every position and they did a great job of executing tonight"|
- Sonny Weems, on defensive difficulties
|"It feels good and it will feel good for the next couple of days and then we get on to improving our record and not worry about George Karl."|
- Nuggets head coach George Karl on his 1000th career win
|"It was kind of tough for us because we were doing something on the defensive end and he was always popping and shooting the ball and we couldn't guard that."|
- Leandro Barbosa, on defending Harrington