It had the air of a preseason game by the start of the fourth quarter. Raptors head coach Jay Triano had 5 non starters on the court in an eight point deficit to the Denver Nuggets, losing 130 – 112 in an embarrassing display of poor defense and severe bench mismanagement.
Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Nene Halario accumulated 67 of the Nuggets 130 points, completely dominating the Raptors starters at both ends of the floor. J.R Smith also had an impressive 29 points off the bench in just 21 minutes of playing time.
The loss was another defensive collapse by the Raptors who have now allowed 109 points per game, 2nd worst in the league. It also showed Triano’s potential weakness as a coach as key players like Rasho Nesterovich played just 8 minutes while Nugget big men were scoring easily in the paint. Demar Derozan had a good night on paper, but his 17 total points came when the score didn’t matter and Anthony schooled the rookie for most of the night. Anthony was suffering from a migraine headache and still managed to dominate Toronto at both ends.
“My legs could work,” Anthony said. “As long as I could run up and down that court, I was good. One of those Doug Moe games. It ended in the third quarter, though. In the first half, we were trying to outscore them. We was going bucket for bucket. We got together at halftime and told each other we didn’t want to play like that. In the third quarter, we played old Denver Nugget basketball, getting up and down the court in transition, playing defense . It was easy for us.”
The Nuggets also managed to cool down Bosh’s game, holding the Raptors forward to just 13 points. Bosh still managed to put up a double-double by grabbing 14 rebounds, his eighth of the season – but his inside game disappeared and Triano’s team settled for jumpers while allowing the Nuggets to score almost at will.
“They were physical on Chris Bosh, they were bumping him all night and he only got two free throws,” Triano said. Denver head coach George Karl had the same thought.
“Keeping Bosh under control was huge,” Karl said. “Maybe they went away from him some, but it seemed like he never got a personality.”
The Raptors are now 5 – 6 and play the Jazz in Utah tonight.