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

Comments (51)

  1. Like you mentioned on Twitter, the “Rudy” chants as the Raptors were coming out of that final timeout before the game winner were something else. We haven’t had too many goosebump inducing moments over the last few years but that was definitely one of them.

    I’m really interested to see how they look tomorrow against another team that will look to push the pace against them like the Nuggets did, would be nice to go out on a high note before the All-Star break but I’m keeping my expectations in check against the Knicks.

    • It’s not a big enough sample to mean anything for certain, but it’s at least interesting that the Raptors are 6-5 on the second night of back to backs this year. Young legs? No chance to party the night before? Food for thought for tomorrow’s game.

    • I cant believe people were upset about losing calderon and davis. Rudy is on another level talent wise.

      • You can’t believe people were upset about losing Calderon? He was one of the classiest players to ever put on a raptors jersey. Great guy, great point guard, and always gave it his all. I can believe it,

  2. Nice to see them on a bit of a roll. I find myself a bit excited about who they’re winning against. The Clippers, Pacers and Nuggets are nothing to scoff at. All three were arguably in weakened states, but hey, baby steps. Fingers crossed for a win in NYC to head into the break on a high.

  3. That dunk on Mozgov is basically porno

  4. I feel like i’ve been conditioned, that the Raptors will lose @ the end of the game when it’s close. All those heart breaking losses this season. Even tonight i was thinking “here we go again….” Rudy Gay, make me a believer!!!

    I’m glad Casey went with Fields as he was playing some solid ball before he was sidelined with the back spasms.

    Has Ross’s defence taken a huge step backwards or has he always been this bad on defence??? He can’t keep anyone in front of him.

    Out of the last 2 games leading into the all star break, I didn’t think this was the game we’d come away with a win. Raps match up well with NY, fingers crossed we go into All-star weekend on a winning streak.

  5. This team is seriously athletic. It’s also the first time in the history of this team, as far as I can remember, that we have a good long-term player at all 5 positions in the starting lineup.

    • Have to disagree. Amir Johnson is a backup pf. Dude is seriously inconsistent and makes boneheaded plays and/or fatigues when he plays big minutes. Raps are gonna upgrade that spot. Also, not a big derozan fan but hes ok. But 3 of the 5 are good, yes.

      • No! Amir is amazing — 18.1 PER and the best ORat-DRat differential on the team. The dude brings so much to the table … especially hustle, but increasingly savvy, too. His contract has turned out to be something approaching a steal.

        • Agreed .. Might be the most underated rebounder in the league . He might foul alot but…. There are barny fouls where you just fling your arns then there is amir fouls where he is seriously making guys work and olaying tough d with his feet .

      • you are crazy, amir is amazing

      • @AD
        You’re allowed you take on players – but IMO I disagree with your Amir assessment. The things you said would be true – if it was last season…you’re a year behind.
        Amir is the glue to this team right now! and worth every freakin’ cent.

      • are you nuts? Have you seen his numbers? 5 double-doubles in the last 10 games… his points aren’t manufactured for him… a ton of them are put backs… his D has been great and he is the first person to dive for a loose ball…granted everyone on this post disagrees with you, so that should tell you something.

      • God you’re dumb. Amir and Demar are having solid years.

  6. Anyone else think the refs were brutal tonight?

    middeljohn, yes, and it is about frickin’ time.

  7. I think you’re being unduly harsh on Bargnani in this game. I understand why, but he’s a bench player now and not even worth mentioning. The Nuggets owned the boards even without him, so why not throw some blame about that elsewhere? Similarly you cite Lawson getting anywhere he wanted to go against “the Raptors’ defence” without singling anyone out. Yet don’t you think if Calderon were still on the team, you’d blast him for Lawson scoring 29 points? Just be consistent and try to be aware of your biases.

    • This isnt the first game Bargs didnt try. In fact, he hasnt hustled in 7 years. I’m growing tired of people defending him.
      Does he want to get on our good side? Then dont hustle just enough. Hustle more than anyone on the floor! You owe us a few years!

      He deserves all the heat is is getting right now. Especially since we can see what a slack he is compared to the others around him busting their butts.

    • Well said, GM.
      The point, speaking of any single issue, is how the media and writers are – or are not -consistent.
      In this case, you can see by yourself.
      The other readers around…. they are just babies.

    • @GM and @Adam…

      It is true the other “bigs” on the Raptors were beat last night – that’s OK, it happens now and then to every player to every team – specifically with a team like the Nuggets who are 1st in the league for scoring in the paint. The difference is – Bargnani shows NO HUSTLE – that is the point I got from this article. It wasn’t just last night, it’s every night…Seeing Bargnani hustle is not the norm. If your gonna get beat, fine you got beat – but DON’T get beat because you decided not to hustle or try hard. The other T.O “bigs” at least were trying/hustling when they were beat. In other word “put your man pants on” Bargnani or give the 10 mil per back! This whole “flu” EXCUSE is BS, its been over 3 days having the flu – when Amir had the “flu” a few weeks ago, he played through it and grabbed us a Double-Double and he is making 4 million per less then Bumgnani…..that’s why Bargnani deserves the harsh critiques.
      Question: How does it feel to pay money out of your pocket (while making a fraction of what Bargnani makes) to watch Bargnani – but only to watch him not care!??? He made close to 200,000$ for that performance last night. Your OK paying for this? I get pissed when I drop 15$ to watch a crappy movie at the theater – so when I have to pay for extra cable channels or a 60$+ ticket to watch my fav sports team, and the 10 million dollar man decided he is too (wah-wah) sick to hustle – It makes me sick!

      For the Lowry defensive (complaint)..I’m not Joe, but IMO, why would he mention Lowry? Yes Lowry was getting beat last night – once again, it happens – Lawson is a great player torching lots of PG’s in this league. With Calderon, defensive liability is a every game problem (you think after 8 NBA seasons he would correct this – but he doesn’t)…with Lowry it’s not the normal, it happens (mostly on nights against – not great – but superior ball handlers) but, just doesn’t happen often…so why rubb Lowry for one bad defensive game!??!…If Lowry is going to do it every game (just like Jose) then yes, you have a point! but he doesn’t, so why should Joe mention it!?
      Also, not sure how often you read these articles but Joe is hard on Lowry (at times when he is not performing well) and has been often this season.

  8. Fun Game! That first quarter was the most fun quarter ive seen all year. Everyone seemed to chip in one way or another.

  9. Raps have three highlights in the nightly NBA top 10, all of which are in the top 5, no less. Ross, Gay and Derozan. As it should be.

  10. Glad DeRozan was your player of the game. Even though Gay hit the winner, I thought it was ridiculous he was named player of the game when I was watching. Felt like it given to him based on the hype around him right now, and the fact that he hit the winning shot. Demar was a big reason the Raptors stayed in this game. He kept attacking. If not for him, I don’t think there’s a game winner to hit.

  11. As someone else mentioned, this writing to fit a narrative stuff is getting sad.

    If Jose was the back up this game, his defense would be mentioned in allowing the nuggets guards to run wild. Kyle Lowry starts and it isn’t mentioned because it doesn’t fit the narrative of him being a great defender.

    Bargnani plays limited minutes off the bench after having the flu, gets by far the largest paragraph of all the players mentioned berating his play/effort. No mention of how all of Toronto’s bigs were beat on the boards at every turn last night.

    The guy doesn’t deserve praise, he also doesn’t deserve being dumped on to the degree/frequency he gets with such a limited role. It’s like watching state of the union coverage and focusing 15 minutes of an hour discussion on the way Biden looked sitting behind the president.

    • Were you watching the State of the Union? Biden sitting behind the president was by far the most entertaining/interesting part of the speech.

    • Lowry wasn’t the reason Lawson scored so well… the raps were playing a ton of zone defense so Lawson was not always Lowry’s man to cover. Coach Casey went to zone since they were scoring so well in the paint… problem with the zone is it leaves a lot of shooters open…

      Also… if you were watching Bargs on the floor I can count a few times on D where he allowed the Offen. board by not boxing out the man closest to him in the zone. He just watches the first shot miss and assume someone on his team will get the board…

      This recap is spot on. The only fabricated story lines are the ones you’re talking about bud.

      • Point
        Your Head

        As GM just said, no one is saying Bargnani wasn’t beat on the glass. Were saying all the bigs were beat on the glass and the guy that played the least minutes gets blasted for it in his own paragraph, while no mention is made to the others.

        Nice try though “bud”

        • hey bud… people seem to constantly forget Bargs is 7’0… to have one board in 18 minutes of play at the 4 spot. is terrible. At least the other bigs still got boards… JV w 8, Amir w 7… DD even had 8.

          Oh should I mention he also only had 4 points…. yea, these writers are terrible… you could write a much better recap Adam. Go for it!

    • Great way to put it, it’s pretty pathetic. I’ve said the same thing plenty of times on here about the selective reporting Lowry gets from the writers, but they just accused of me being a “Calderon fanboy” .. 37 minutes last night, not a single word on him

      • I have nothing against Lowry. I like him. I just don’t like inconsistency. @DB, you say it wasn’t Lowry’s fault — AND I AGREE! The point being, it wasn’t Jose’s fault, either. But you can damn well be sure that nobody would be making “Oh, the Raptors were playing zone” excuses if that was Jose out there last night. Or they’d be saying the reason they had to play zone was because Jose can’t guard Lawson one-on-one. So just be consistent, people.

        Also, @DB, if you could count a few times on D where Bargnani allowed the offensive board, how many times could you count it with the other bigs? Bargnani played less than 18 minutes. Again, I’m not here to defend Bargnani. But there’s no reason to single him out in a game like this where clearly and demonstrably every single big wasn’t doing his job on the boards.

        • @GM… I think everyone is staying consistent on JC vs Lowry re: defensive prowess. I’d be willing to bet that the Raps get killed in this game with JC running the point. I’m a big fan of JC and I wish him all the best but Lowry is a much better defender than JC ever was and ever will be. Two main reasons… Lowry has active hands… and quicker feet. That cannot be argued.

          RE: Bargnani… see my response to Adam above.

    • Well said Adam.

  12. Trade bargs for a bag of balls

  13. let’s not forgot the raps shot 21-23 from the FT line last night. should deserve a mention

  14. lowry attempts to many steals for my liking, play tight and stop reaching, you can get steals without reaching!

  15. The starters on the Raps can bang tough with any team in the NBA right now – we need going forward to cash Bumgnani in on some “key” role players – a banger off the bench, an upgrade at the second tier PG spot (JL3 is doing great for now – but how long can this last?) and more consistency with Anderson and Ross would help. If i were coaching (right now), Fields and Acy would be seeing more minutes…but I digress!
    At one time this season we had Amir, Davis and Calderon or Lowry coming off the bench – now we have known of those guys coming off the bench. We can’t count on JL3 shooting the lights out every game.
    Ridnour and D. Williams for Bargnani, Anderson and second pick – anybody like that!??!

  16. I was a kinda disappointed in the rookies this game; JV didn’t look very focused and Ross was fouling everyone.

    • JV played his guts out. Denver is the most active team in the league re: points in the paint and offensive rebounds. JV was knocking people around every time a shot went up. I was thinking the exact opposite of you – after the Pacers game and this game, that guy probably has too many bruises to count. You could see a scratch on his arm that ran from his shoulder all the way to his elbow…

    • JV had a great game in my eyes. He worked his ass off man, he looks good out there.

      • JV totally owned Javale that game. I also love how Gay and Lowry are actively looking for JV down low. He is going to be a big part of this team.

  17. Picture this: Demar, Rudy and Pasta Man avg around 17 PPG….Lowry has that potential…..If the ytrade Pasta Man for another PF who can do that, along with developing JV and Ross….This can be the most balanced Raps squad ever…..

    I know they ALL cant avg 17ppg, but hey, if it comes close to that, all they need is a stong bench and boom, wins will come….

  18. [" 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. "]

    Wow … Joseph. Try not to let your bias get the better part of you.

    As GM said (in his comment), you need to cut AB some slack. He wasn’t recovering from the flu … he HAS the flu. Bargs looked like he shouldn’t have been there. He was game time decision, and shouldn’t have played. Only reason he was playing, is because Raps have a back-to-back, and Casey had limited options. Did your genius analytical skills consider that.

    Raptors got smoked on the glass, which in the case of Bargnani-not, was for 30 minutes without him.

  19. Reporter: “What do you miss most about Memphis?”
    Rudy Gay: “Nothing”

  20. This mssg board is hilarious! Imagine if Toronto’d *lost* the game?!

    Never let winning get in the way of moaning!

  21. Can you guys please do your best to make Rudy Gay aware of this?! Do we know if he is already? Can you please use your contacts with beat guys to bring this to his attention? I think we gotta make this happen. It would be awesome if he knew about this!

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