Nuggets have the Raptors’ number
Coming into Denver, the Raptors had scored over 100 points in nine straight games. Denver had surrendered 100-plus points in eight straight.
But the most alarming part of Monday night’s performance was that Toronto missed a lot of open shots. They were flat in all phases, but offensively they were hitting a lot of front rim.
The Nuggets have now swept the season series versus Toronto. If the Raptors narrowly miss out on advantageous playoff position at the end of the year, they will look back and regret dropping two games to a team in the draft lottery.
Jokic vs. Jonas
The Raptors were dominated in the paint.
Toronto was outscored by 22 points in the paint in first half, and only had 26 all game. The Nuggets finished with 60 and 17 fast-break points. The biggest factor inside was Nikola Jokic, who dropped 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting and 14 rebounds. Jock dominated his matchup with Jonas Valanciunas from the outset, scoring the Nuggets’ first 11 points. J.V., who was questionable to play with a sprained right thumb, was held to just 10 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
Nuggets small forwards come up big
This is the type of game where you notice the absence of DeMarre Carroll.
Even before James Johnson left the game for X-rays on his sprained left ankle (tests were negative), DeMar DeRozan was forced to guard bigger players. Will Barton and Danilo Gallinari took DeRozan in the post and banged on him down low. The Nuggets small forwards combined for 33 points and a plus-29 point differential.
No shows for the Nuggets
The announced crowd was 10,007 but there was much less in the arena. Virtually the entire 300 level was empty as were massive sections in the lower bowl to the side of the basket. There is a snowstorm blowing through the Denver area so that certainly impacted the walk up crowd, but attendance has been an issue all year. The Nuggets are dead last in the league in attendance with an average of 13,883. Denver is not a good team, but they do play an exciting brand of basketball.
It’s a shame when great basketball markets in major cities like Seattle and Vancouver go without a team, while there are half-empty arenas on a nightly basis all over the league.
Black History Month in the NBA
You know it’s Black History Month when the branded apparel comes out. Not only did both teams have Black History Month commemorative Adidas shooting shirts and stance socks, many players were wearing commemorative Black History Month shoes. The best belonged to DeMar DeRozan, who sported the Kobe Elite BHM low cuts, as did Norman Powell and Anthony Bennett.
Kyle Lowry passed fellow Philadelphia native Alvin Williams for second on the Raptors’ all-time assist list, trailing only Jose Calderon.
Quote of the Night