The Raptors were in this one for roughly seven minutes in the first quarter before Denver pulled away for good and made a 50th loss on the season all but a formality by halftime. After a DeMar DeRozan jumper pulled the Raptors to within 19-16, the Nuggets replied with a 17-7 run to finish the first quarter ahead by 13.
The were outscored in each remaining quarter, allowed 28 points off 23 turnovers, were outscored in the paint 60-30, outscored in transition 28-8, outrebounded 52-41 and got to the line just 18 times, versus 37 for the Nuggets. Major difference between Sunday's effort and this one.
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson had to step his game up with his team somewhat thin in the backcourt and used his explosive quickness and long-distance shooting to torch the Raptors for 17 first-quarter points (5-5 FGM-A, 2-2 3PT FGM-A, 5-5 FTM-A). He'd finish with a game-high 23 points and eight assists.
"With Raymond out he has a big window of responsibility," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "He didn’t do bad in Orlando or Miami, but I think tonight he was more committed and understanding that he can’t have bad moments and bad stretches. He was the leader of the night."
Alexis Ajinca didn't factor into any kind of comeback or change the momentum of a game that was well in hand for the Nuggets, but on a night where precious few Raptors were able to get it going, he certainly made the most of his opportunity.
The big man with extended range canned a game-high three triples and finished four-of-seven from the field 11 points, with nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal in just under 16 minutes of work.
"First six minutes the pace of the game was pretty good for us. But this is a team that is going to run and they were quicker to the ball all night. We couldn’t keep guys in front of us, so we end up putting them on the free-throw line. The fouls were 37 times. When you are a step slow in this league, whether it is inexperience or fatigue from travel or playing a back-to-back, you get exposed and we did tonight."
- Jay Triano, on the loss
Mon., Mar. 23 @ Phoenix
10:00 PM, TSN, FAN590
It's off to face another opponent that has long plagued the Raptors, who have dropped 12 straight overall against the Suns and six straight at US Airways Center. The Suns bolted out to a 35-14 first quarter lead at ACC on February 25 and cruised to a 110-92 with no Phoenix player scoring more than 17 points in the blowout win.
|7||Consecutive losses for the Raptors vs. the Nuggets|
|0-6||Raptors record all-time on the second-game of a back-to-back in Denver|
|15-6||Second chance points favouring the Nuggets|
|.402||Field goal percentage for the Raptors|
|50-32||Bench scoring favouring the Nuggets|
|"I felt something pop in my Achilles and I just had an x-ray. They said everything is good. It was really hurting through out the game, so I just had to shut it down."|
- Amir Johnson on leaving the game
|"We knew they came in last night and got a tough win against Oklahoma City at Oklahoma City. We didn’t want that to happen here."|
- Nuggets guard J.R. Smith on his team's win
|"They played well from the beginning. From the first quarter, they jumped on us. We didn’t react. That is really the story."|
- Jose Calderon, on a back-to-back being a factor