Nuggets at Raptors recap: Denver falls flat in fourth, lose in Toronto

Can anyone name this Raptors player? A clue, he scored 7 points tonight against the Nuggets.

There is a saying by mothers out there that goes, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Well, the Nuggets lose to the Raptors 105-96 and get outscored from the 1:46 mark in the 3rd quarter to the game's end 26-11. The Nuggets missed 15 straight shots in the fourth quarter and lose again in embarrassing fashion to a team that is supposed to be inferior, on paper.

1st Quarter:

  • Nugs with typical starters with Gallo out: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler (missed his first jumper), Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee (his third start!).
  • My pre-game arguments defending The Chandler don't look good as Wil missed his first shot, was called for an illegal screen on the offensive end, and picked up an And-1 foul on Andrea Bargnani ... 3-0 Raptors. Bounce back big Wil!
  • Ladies and Gentlemen ... Dick Bavetta is still alive! Calls AAA for a travel. Carlos Boozer opened with Chicago's first eight points, Bargs has Toronto's first seven as it's 7-0 Raps.
  • McGee looking good again, a big block (Raps scored on it anyway), a nice alley-oop pass to Faried, an And-1, and a nice baseline hook shot. I like this kid so far, totally different attitude from what we heard about.
  • Karl looking for energy puts Al Harrington in as his first sub and quickly follows that move with Andre Miller and Corey Brewer for Lawson and Chandler. Lawson is off his game so far tonight, not being aggressive or looking to score ... not a good omen for the Nuggets ... down now 25-19.
  • 27-24 Raptors. The Nuggets team defense has been pretty awful tonight. The second unit looks completely lost on offense with Miller, AAA, Brew, Big Al and Moz. I'd love to see what Kosta Koufos could do tonight or Chris Andersen, Moz has no confidence and can't seem to shake whatever his bothering him mentally.
2nd Quarter:
  • Karl replaces AAA with Lawson to start the second. I hate this lineup: 'Dre, Lawson, Brew, Big Al, and Moz. Mozgov gets another defensive three-second call, he's good for one of those per game now. Mozgov's head hasn't been right for weeks now ... what's going on there? Team therapist needed.
  • Altitude showed highlights of Gary Forbes with the Nuggets last season, he looks like a different guy. Forbes looks to be in much better shape and grew the hair/beard out a bit. He is diabetic, so weight issues could plague him, when we saw him in Denver he looked really good too. Glad to see him doing well in Toronto. Brewer clangs another three ... Nuggets have missed about 655 straight shots. Wow. 32-22 Raptors ... pathetic. Karl needs rebounders in the game, yet Birdman and Kouf sit.
  • Karl needs to bench Lawson. Kid doesn't want to play tonight. Hope he can change that in a hurry ... he commits a turnover, picks up a loose ball on the other end that leads to a Moz dunk ... a turning point in the game? 32-24 Raps with about ten minutes to go ...
  • 55-53 Raptors. The Nuggets lacked focus and defense throughout much of the half. Denver picked up the defensive intensity with under two minutes left in the half and took a brief lead 53-52 off a steal and Harrington layup, then Kleiza-rock hit a desperation three to end the half from about 40-feet out ... ouch. Raptors shooting a scorching 7-12 from long-range and 10-16 at the foul line to 3-8 from deep and 8-10 from the foul line for the Nuggets. Denver needs to pick up the defense and aggression on offense.
3rd Quarter:
  • The starters start and are playing with a better offensive intensity and picking up the defense a little bit too. Nuggets lead 65-63 behind Lawson and Chandler's aggression. Lawson with 5 points and Wil with 6 points this half. Looking better, but McGee has 4 fouls (still in the game)! Will we see more Harrington or maybe Koufos?
  • This is Lawson's team. He has 18 points on the night after knocking down a transition three, it's 69-63 Nuggets. It's amazing how much power he wields with the team that he is not yet totally aware of how to handle. Still 7:06 to go in the quarter.
  • McGee with a steal and goes coast-to-coast and dunks on Jose Calderon ... McGee salutes the crowd after staring down the crowd - a little fancy, but a heck of a play. Harrington in for McGee and Denver is going with small ball with Faried at the center spot. 73-69 now.
  • Not to be outdone by McGee, Lawson goes right through the heart of the Raptors defense and dunks one home! Giving the Nuggets a 78-74 lead ... love Lawson's sudden awakening in this game. He knows he can abuse Calderon and he's doing his best to destroy the Raps.
  • 85-85 tied. Nuggets manage to blow an 85-79 lead with 1:46 to go in the period. Nuggets unable to rebound and give up 10 offensive boards in THE QUARTER! Who can close?
4th Quarter:
  • Nuggets open the quarter with 'Dre, AAA, Brew, Al, and Moz. Moz pulled for Faried and the Nuggets rebounding instantly gets better and Faried gets a couple big boards on both ends. Brewer not doing much, Gallo will be welcomed back in a hurry! Now 9:15 left and it's 91-88 Denver. How long will Karl play this wacky lineup?
  • Lawson, Chandler, McGee in ... Brewer, Al and Miller out at the 7:30ish mark. We'll see if these guys close out.
  • Now with 5:30 left and it's 95-94 Raptors. Nuggets going into jump-shot mode, still unable to secure rebounds on either end, and the Raptors are getting wide open looks any time they want them. This is bad news.
  • Back from the timeout and Harrington is in for Faried and Miller for McGee. Wow ... horrible lineup, Denver might not make it back from this wacky lineup.
  • Raptors get hot, Nuggets go ice cold ... horrible ending to a bizarre game. The Nuggets just can't shake the inconsistency and it's going to cost them dearly.
Game recap: Tonight's loss falls on George Karl's wacky lineups and failure to utilize his bigs, on the Nuggets offense that refused to continue their aggressive play in the fourth quarter, and to the Nuggets ever-awful defense that gives up 105 points to a team that averages 91 points per game. What the $%^&%?!?!

This felt like one of those games that the Nugget thought they could skate by on talent alone. Denver's 11-point fourth quarter ultimately doomed the team, but the failure to play defense and rebound earlier in the game was the real reason why Denver lost this contest. Neither team shot well down the stretch as Toronto outscored Denver in the fourth 20-11, but once again we see an opponent utilize a zone defense to confuse the Nuggets offense that has little to no clue how to beat a zone.

That stretch in the third with just 1:46 left was an absolute killer for Denver. With Mozgov anchoring the middle and Harrington trying to once again play out of position at the power forward spot, the Nuggets failed to rebound as a team and gave up a 85-79 lead and just looked flat. That flat performance stuck with the team, even as new players were shuffled in and out of the lineup.

Karl's crunch-time squad of Lawson, Miller, Afflalo, Chandler, and Harrington had no idea how to attack the Raptors defense and went into straight jump-shooting mode ... outside of two Afflalo missed layups - one of which he has to learn to dunk to get the calls he wants.

What a horrendous loss ... something these Nuggets might be getting used to ... next stop Charlotte - how many guys will have season saving games that night?



Views you can use:
  • Bargnani looked like a true No. 1 pick tonight with 26 points on 7-14 shooting (10-12 free throws). Denver tried to defend him with Faried, Afflalo, Chandler, Harrington, and McGee ... they all failed.
  • Kleiza and Forbes combined for 26 points on 8-20 shooting. Both guys hit big shots against their former team, but none bigger than Kleiza's dagger three before the end of the half from about 40-feet out ...
  • Jose Calderon put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists, but he helped give up 26 points to Denver's leading scorer, Ty Lawson. A good game from Ty, but his teammates didn't help him out.
  • Denver is now 13-2 vs. the Eastern Conference with losses coming from the Cavalier and Raptors ... who are a combined 34-65.
  • What's going on with Karl's stubbornness to stick with Mozgov? Moz's confidence is at an all time low right now and yet Koufos and Chris Andersen ride the pine. I really hate how Karl uses smaller players over bigger lineups and I don't expect we'll see much change when Gallo gets back, it might even get worse as Jeff Morton pointed out that before Gallo was injured vs. Dallas, Karl had him playing some center! Gah!








Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nate_Timmons
ntimmons73@yahoo.com
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