The Denver Nuggets emerged victorious in a battle between two of the NBA’s best. Denver, number one in the Western Conference, beat the Toronto Raptors 106-103 at Scotiabank Arena.
The Nuggets (16-7) led by three after the first quarter, and a dozen at the break, to snap the Raptors league-best eight-game win streak en route to capturing their sixth-straight triumph and making their string of wins the NBA’s longest.
“Winning some of these games on the road against quality opponents, that says a lot,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “And what I think even says more is that you lose Gary Harris. Our locker room is getting lonelier and lonelier. There’s not many bodies in there, but We never make excuses. We don’t make explanations. We find ways to gut this win out undermanned.”
A 10-0 Raptors’ run, during a 2:46 stretch early in the fourth quarter, trimmed a once 11-point Denver lead all the way down to one on a 3-pointer from Toronto wing C.J. Miles with about eight minutes left. Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas fouled Nuggets point guard Monte Morris on a 3-point attempt on the ensuing possession. Following a technical foul whistled against Raptors coach Nick Nurse and subsequent Jamal Murray free throw, the 6-3 Iowa State product knocked down two of three attempts from the foul line to give the Nuggets a four-point lead with 7:14 to go.
Toronto (20-5) would tie the game twice down the stretch and took the lead at 101-100 on a mid-range jumper from Kawhi Leonard with 54.9 seconds to go.
No one loomed larger for the Nuggets than 7-foot Serbian center Nikola Jokić, who recorded his second triple-double of the season, scoring 23 Points on 8-13 shooting, snatching down 11 rebounds and handing out 15 assists in 36 minutes.
His floater in the lane with 40 seconds remaining put the Nuggets up a point. Leonard evened the game on a fadeaway baseline jumper with seven seconds left before Jokić sealed the deal with three big free throws in the game’s waning stages.
“I think guys are stepping up, embracing the moment,” Malone said. “You always know a team like this is going to make a run. The question is, ‘Can you withstand the run? For a while there it didn’t look we were going to be able to. But how do you turn the page and how do you get over that hump? You get timely defensive stops and defensive rebounds and you make big plays.”
Murray scored 21 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds while playing a game-high 41 minutes in part due to the fact that backcourt Gary Harris went out of the game with a right hip injury in the second quarter. Hernangómez had 15 points and five rebounds and third-year guard Malik Beasley scored 15 off the bench on 6-for-8 shooting, going a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the 3-point line in 27 minutes.
Leonard led all scorers with 27 points while adding eight rebounds. Ibaka contributed with 15 points and Pascal Siakam filled the state sheet with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds. The Nuggets limited all-star guard Kyle Lowry to just five points, 10 below his average, on 1 of 7 shooting in 34 minutes to go along with 11 assists.
Denver outscored the Raptors 46-38 in the paint and out-rebounded them 15-7 on the offensive glass.
Source: NBA | December 3, 2018