Denver Nuggets 121, Toronto Raptors 111: Three takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Denver Nuggets finished with a perfect 4-for-4 homestand after securing a 121-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Denver and Toronto were locked in a cagey matchup through the opening three quarters, but the home team would break the game open with a 15-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Denver would build a 23-point lead before securing what would be a 10-point win for Michael Malone’s team.

Michael Porter Jr. walked away with another strong performance, finishing the night with 23 points and seven rebounds. The Nuggets had seven scorers in double-digits in the contest. Malone captured his 300th win in the process. 

Toronto was paced by OG Anunoby, who had 25. 

The Nuggets will head to Los Angeles for what should be a highly competitive swing, facing the Clippers and Lakers within three days.

Here are the takeaways:

Bench shines

Trades and injuries have changed the identity of this group a bit, with defense being the focus. The reserves brought some spark on the other end Thursday.

The Nuggets dropped 48 points on the Raptors in the contest, outscoring their counterparts by 29. JaMychal Green got back to some of his best basketball, putting up 15 points and five rebounds on 6 of 9. In his last four outings, Green had struggled with his shot and averaged 4.5 points per game on 36.8. percent shooting.

Green was active on both ends and refused to be denied. He had an emphatic slam on a putback from a missed shot from Paul Millsap. Shaq Harrison and Paul Millsap were also impressive, combining for 19 points and making strong plays defensively.

Austin stands out

Speaking about strong performances of the bench, Austin Rivers poured in his highest tally as a Nugget with 11 points. While the number might not jump off the page, it’s a step in the right direction for a player trying to prove his worth on a 10-day contract.

Rivers shot 4 of 9, connecting on two threes, and continued his efforts on the defensive end, adding another two steals. The reserve guard is averaging 2.33 steals in his last three outings. With Jamal Murray, Monte Morris, and Will Barton III, the Nuggets need the guards on their roster to step up their production. Rivers and Harrison have proved to be excellent late-season pick-ups for the team.

Paint dominance

The Nuggets’ control of the interior is the biggest reason why they were able to finish their season series against the Raptors 1-1.

Denver outscored Toronto in the paint 56-38 and outmuscled its opponent on the glass, grabbing 47-35. Both factors were impressive considering the Raptors have Pascal Siakam and Anunoby on the other end.

Nikola Jokić did some damage in the low post, scoring five of his eight made field goals within the paint. The MVP frontrunner had another strong finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds – his 54th double-double of the season.

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