Denver Nuggets v Toronto Raptors

Rudy Gay played the hero again, as the Raptors edged the Nuggets on Gay’s game-winner with 4.8 seconds left on the clock.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Raptors 109, Nuggets 108

- After his overtime heroics in Indiana, I ranted about Gay’s credentials as an NBA “closer,” not just because he has hit game-winning shots in the past, but because he’s skilled enough at 6-8 to handle the ball and get to where he wants to get to on the floor while creating his own shot. That was on display again tonight against the Nuggets, where the legend of Rudy in Toronto grew tenfold.

Gay battled foul trouble all night and wasn’t really able to build off of his 13-point first quarter performance, but I think Raptors fans are just fine with how things ended.

- DeMar DeRozan didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight (he was 8-of-18 from the field), but I thought he came up big for the Raptors while Gay sat with foul trouble. DeRozan attacked the basket, made a point of hitting the glass and was better defensively than we’re used to seeing.

He also did this to poor Timofey Mozgov.

- For the second game in a row, John Lucas III came up huge for the Raptors in the fourth quarter, as Lucas hit his first four three-point attempts of the final frame. On top of that, Alan Anderson came in during the fourth after sitting much of the first three quarters and gave the Raptors a nice boost off of the bench, as Anderson and Lucas combined to score an unlikely 22 of Toronto’s 30 fourth quarter points on 8-of-13 shooting.

I’ve been ripping Anderson’s shot selection a lot lately – and rightfully so – but he played a big part in the Raptors pulling this one out and probably saved his spot in Dwane Casey’s rotation in the process, especially after Casey went with Landry Fields over Anderson in the third quarter. For the record, Fields gave the Raptors some solid minutes in that third period.

- After a couple of decent games off of the bench last week, Andrea Bargnani reminded us what we were weren’t missing all of those weeks with his performance tonight. Bargnani scored four points on 2-of-7 shooting, grabbed one rebound and turned the ball over a couple of times in just under 18 minutes of action, while posting a team-worst +/- of -8. On too many occasions in his 17:57 of playing time, the Raptors lost a chance to recover a loose ball or rebound because Andrea simply looked unwilling or unable to bend his knees past the halfway point or to even extend his arms.

And I know people are pointing to the fact that Bargnani played this game while recovering from the flu, but sorry, the guy lost the benefit of the doubt with me a looong time ago.

- The Nuggets absolutely dominated and abused the Raptors inside tonight, outscoring Toronto 70-34 in the paint and out-rebounding the Raps 45-38. They also got a monster performance from Ty Lawson, who until the last shot of the game, basically got wherever he wanted to go against the Raptors’ defence. All in all, it was a spirited effort from a Denver team missing three key players in Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

With how explosive and deep this team is and considering how dominant they can be on the glass, if the Nuggets can steal the Western Conference’s fourth seed from the Grizzlies, I really don’t see any of the West’s 5-8 seeds winning four out of seven against a Nuggets team with home court advantage. I doubt Denver makes the West Final, but they should be good for the second round if they can lock up home court in the first round. After tonight, they’re one game back of Memphis for fourth and are 22-3 at home, but just 11-17 on the road.

- Much like the game against the Pacers on Friday, I feel like this is exactly the kind of game the Raptors have been on the losing end of too many times this season and in general over the last number of years. As a fanbase, we just flat out deserve for some of these to start going our way, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come…

No kidding Steve, no kidding, and tonight’s crowd was no exception.

Raptors Player Of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 22 Pts, 8/18 FG, 0/1 3PT, 6/6 FT, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO in 38:41

Nuggets Player Of the Game: Ty Lawson – 29 Pts, 12/20 FG, 1/3 3PT, 4/6 FT, 1 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 TO in 39:16