It wasn’t the prettiest of games as the two teams combined to miss 22 shots from the free throw line, but in the end, it was too much Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams and the Raptors buried the Nuggets with a 28-15 fourth quarter to win 116-102. Toronto living up to #WeTheFourth once again.
Almost from the start it looked like the Raptors were going to pull away and win this game easily, however, the Nuggets refused to go away and the Raptors uncharacteristically shot 13-25 from the charity stripe through the first three quarters. Often times it looked like Toronto was running on tired legs in the mile-high city after playing in Los Angeles the night before, but Head Coach Dwane Casey found energy in his bench when he needed it.
Off the bench, Williams poured in 31 points and drew an impressive array of fouls on his defenders while Tyler Hansbrough pumped in 10 key points including an unexpected mid-range jump shot and a driving slam dunk. Hansbrough also brought some badly needed energy on defense in the fourth quarter as he helped to neutralize Kenneth Faried with the game on the line.
However, as has so often been the case this season, it was Lowry with 30 points and 11 assists who broke down defenses and led the Raptors in points (10), rebounds (4) and assists (4) in the fourth quarter.
Raptors Republic: Quick Reaction: Raptors 116, Nuggets 102 by Garrett Hinchey summed up Lowry’s night:
Every time it seemed like Denver went on a run and threatened to push past the Raptors, it was Lowry who came up with the clutch bucket, steal, or charge taken. The Nuggets tried putting larger wings on him in an attempt to slow his outside shot, and he responded by blowing past them to the basket and finishing over larger players. Extremely impressive individual effort after playing big minutes the day before.
Faried was coming off a 26 point 25 rebound performance in the Nuggets 106-102 win over the Timberwolves on Friday and he had 17 points and 19 rebounds against Toronto. The only concern was the 19 shots he took and the numerous misses right at the rim. Faried’s rebounding was helping to keep Denver in this game and gave the Nuggets a 5 rebound advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Ty Lawson also had a big game for the Nuggets with 28 points and 7 assists and Wilson Chandler chipped in with 20 points, however, the Nuggets couldn’t match Toronto’s bench production as the Raptors reserves held a 53-20 advantage.
The Nuggets took a 1-point lead on the first shot of the fourth quarter, but Toronto has become very adept at crushing sub-.500 teams with the game on the line and held Denver to just 28.7 percent shooting from the field over the final 12 minutes. The Raptors shot 50 percent in the fourth as Lowry and Williams scored 10 points each and Amir Johnson came in to get 8 of his 13 points.
“They gave us an example of what defense is supposed to do coming down the stretch of the game,” admitted Head Coach Brian Shaw.
Faried went 1-6 and Chandler shot 1-4 in the final period as the Raptors tightened their defense and ran away with the game.
No, this wasn’t the prettiest game, but ultimately, it’s a road back-to-back sweep with the second game in high-altitude settings. The Raptors’ bench has them set up to have a chance to win these games, but it’s really rewarding when it actually results in a comfortable win, particularly when the team isn’t playing their best ball.
With the win, the Eastern Conference’s first-place 24-7 Raptors have improved their record against the West to 9-2. They’ll meet the West’s second-place 25-7 Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday.
After 30 games, 17 of them at home, the Toronto Raptors lead the NBA in attendance at 334,624, but their fans just aren’t getting the job done in the All-Star voting. In the early All-Star ballot returns, Toronto doesn’t have any players even close to being voted into the big game.