Big Night From Bargnani Helps Raptors Top Nuggets
Top Plays: Bargnani Off Balance | Anderson Putback Slam | Kleiza Buzzer Beater | DeRozan Crossover
Post Game: Highlights | Casey | Bargnani | DeRozan | Calderon
March 28, 2012
TORONTO (CP) Andrea Bargnani appeared to have the pep back in his step Wednesday night, according to coach Dwane Casey, the same pep he had prior to missing 20 games with a calf injury.
Bargnani finished with a team-high 26 points in the Raptors 105-96 win over the Denver Nuggets, his highest point total since returning.
``I don't know if it's his uncle coming into town or what it is,'' said Casey, ``but he had a pep in his step and I wanted to go to him as much as possible and make sure we take advantage of it.''
Bargnani, who came in 13 points shy of 6,000 career points, reached the milestone on a free throw late in the second quarter. Bargnani became just the fourth member of the Raptors to reach the 6, 000 point plateau joining Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson.
The 26-year-old had a stretch of 10 straight points for the Raptors in the fourth quarter opening up seven point lead.
Ben Uzoh and Gary Forbes also chipped in as the Raptors erased an early fourth quarter deficit.
``It was fun because down the stretch I missed so many threes, wide-open threes and then I hit the two hardest maybe,'' said Bargnani. ``It was a very good fourth quarter, I think they scored something like 11 points so that was the game.''
Denver was led offensively by Ty Lawson's team-high 26 points, including 16 in the third quarter. However, Lawson went 0 for 4 from the field in the fourth quarter.
``We weren't knocking down shots and they were hitting everything,'' said Lawson of the fourth quarter meltdown. ``We had a lot of open, open shots. Bargnani hit two tough three-pointers and we didn't make shots.''
The loss drops the Nuggets to 1-3 on their current seven-game road trip.
``I think we showed a little of the stress of having to win on the road in a big game situation,'' said Denver coach George Karl. ``I felt we played a little tight and maybe a little scared.''
DeMar DeRozan, who returned after missing two games with a left ankle injury, had just six first half points before picking up 11 in the third for 17 on the night.
Afterward, DeRozan admitted he hurt his shoulder in last Friday's collision with teammate Jose Calderon in the win over the Knicks.
``When I hurt my ankle, when I fell, I kind of hurt my shoulder too,'' he said. ``A couple air balls cause my arm was kind of bothering me. Third quarter I just tried to suck it up I knew Gary (Forbes) was out and we needed a lift and I just tried to be there for the team.''
Calderon, who finished with 10 assists and 10 points, stretched his streak to four games with 10 plus assists. Calderon is third in the NBA with 18 games of 10 or more assists trailing only Steve Nash (31) and Rajon Rondon (25).
The Nuggets scored 10 unanswered points early in the third to take their first lead of the game. Toronto responded with a late 8-3 run capped off by a Uzoh lay-in to tie it 85-85.
Uzoh, who was signed to a 10-day contract on Tuesday, finished with five points over 12 minutes of playing time.
DeRozan and Casey were both assessed technical fouls in the third quarter for arguing non-calls.
``I don't want it to be a habit with our guys, I've got to be an example for our players when I get a (technical foul),'' Casey said. ``I didn't think it warranted, I just said I thought our guy got fouled, it wasn't profanity or anything like that.''
The Nuggets used a late 8-2 run, including two dunks from Al Harrington, to take a brief 53-52 lead. However, Linas Kleiza, who was making his first start since January 27, drained a buzzer beating three-pointer to give the Raptors a 55-53 lead at the break.
The Raptors went on a 9-2 run to take a five point lead after one quarter.
NOTES: James Johnson missed Wednesday's game with an upper respiratory infection... The Raptors will make their annual visit to the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children Thursday afternoon.