(Photo credit: Nathan Denette/Canadian Press, via CBC Sports)
DeMar DeRozan returned to the lineup on Wednesday night after suffering a sprained ankle three games prior and Andrea Bargnani is seemingly rounding back into form after his injuries. The result? The Raptors snapped a 2 game losing streak to get back to winning ways, with a convincing 105-96 win over the visiting Denver Nuggets.
The Raptors showed the same determination, grit, and comittment to defense that was on display Saturday night vs. the Chicago Bulls. The Denver Nuggets failed to score on their final 15 possessions, allowing the Raptors to build their lead. The Raptors were down 94-88 with 8:27 to go in the 4th quarter, they sparked a run and didn’t look back. Outscoring the Nuggets 17-1 the rest of the way.
Andrea Bargnani arguably had his best all-around game since returning to the Raptors starting lineup on March 10th, posting 26 points on 7-14 from the field, and 10-12 from the line, along with 5 rebounds. DeMar’s ankle looked good in his return scoring 17 points, including a stretch of 9 straight points for the Raptors midway through the 3rd quarter. Jose Calderon was the facilitator once again, dolling out 10 assists along with scoring 10 points that included going 3-4 from deep. Linas Kleiza also contributed 15 points as a starter in 28 minutes.
The Raptors were without their steadfast defensive presence, James Johnson, who missed the game with an upper respiratory infection and is day-to-day (according to a Yahoo Sports! Raptors Team Report). Despite not starting tonight like he has the past 2 games, Gary Forbes came into the game and provided instant offense and hustle! In only 18 minutes, he scored 11 points (3-4 from 3, 4-8 overall), 10 rebounds, and 2 dimes. Alan Anderson was a sparkplug off the bench as well in his 2nd game for the Toronto Raptors. He scored 7 points in 13 minutes of play. Anderson was averaging 22 points/game in the D-League for the Canton Charge, and was called up by the Raptors earlier this week to give them minutes as it was announced that Jerryd Bayless will likely miss the remainder of the season due to a torn oblique muscle.
The Nuggets got excellent production from Ty Lawson who had 26 points (on 9-19 from the field) and 9 assists, and they also got good play from Kenneth Faried who continues to grow as an NBA player in his rookie season. He provided 10 points (4-6 from the field) & 5 rebounds in 23 minutes of play.
The Nuggets’ JaVale McGee provided a highlight dunk while posterizing Jose Calderon, but let’s be honest, a 7 foot centre dunking over a 6 foot point guard isn’t something to get too excited over. Ask, Raptors TV colour commentator Jack Armstrong if he was impressed. Jack called JaVale a “knucklehead” after the replay showed that JaVale saluted the Toronto crowd and was also staring Jose down after the dunk as he was running back on defense.
This was a confidence boosting win for the Raptors, who lost their last 2, including a hearbreaker in Chicago, and then a loss to the Orlando Magic who were on fire from 3 point range. The Denver Nuggets had just beaten the Chicago Bulls by a large margin in their previous game, and seemed to be ready to bring that effort against the Raptors. The Raptors matched the Nuggets basket for basket most of the game until the Nuggets went cold from the field in the 4th quarter, a combination of solid Raptors defense and the Nuggets not making shots.
Up next, the Toronto Raptors are at home against the Miami Heat in a Friday night showdown. Whenever Chris Bosh is back in town to face his former team, the high level of anticipation & excitement is definitely apparent among Raptors fans…oh yeah, two other guys on the Heat’s roster may help with those sentiments as well.
Andrea Bargnani reached 6,000 career points in the win. According to a report from The Canadian Press, he is just the fourth player to score 6,000 points in a Raptors uniform, joining Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson.