Jokic, Nuggets edge Raptors to end Toronto’s eight-game win streak

Nikola Jokic had a triple-double and Jamal Murray burned the Raptors with 21 points to get the Nuggets a 106-103 win.

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors‘ eight-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Canadian Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Murray, from Kitchener, Ont., had 21 points to help lead the Nuggets to a 106-103 victory over Toronto, and Denver’s sixth consecutive win.

Kawhi Leonard had 27 points for Toronto (20-5), while Serge Ibaka had 15, Pascal Siakam chipped in with 14, Kyle Lowry had 11 assists and Jonas Valanciunas hauled down 10 rebounds.

Nikola Jokic had 23 points to top the Nuggets (16-7), who lost starting guard Gary Harris in the first half to a hip injury.

The Raptors were looking for their ninth consecutive win, but hosted a Denver team that has been working its way up the Western Conference standings. They arrived in Toronto tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for first in the West.

Denver was definitely the better team for the majority of the night. The Raptors couldn’t buy a three-point basket in the early going, shooting a combined 3-for-22 in the first half. The Nuggets led 86-78 with one quarter to play.

A three by C.J. Miles brought the sleepy Scotiabank Arena crowd to life, pulling Toronto to within a point with eight minutes to play.

But on the Nuggets’ next possession, Valanciunas was whistled for fouling on a three-point play. Nick Nurse, who earlier in the day was named Eastern Conference coach of the month, was irate, picking up a technical. That put Denver back up by four, and prompted the outraged crowd to chant "Ref you suck!"

The Raptors clawed back and a big dunk by Ibaka tied it up at 94-94 with 4:40 to play. Trailing by a point with two minutes to play, Leonard air-balled a three-point attempt, but made up for it with a long jumper — and a double fist pump in celebration — on the Raptors’ next trip down the floor.

Jokic replied with a hook shot, then on Toronto’s final frantic possession, Danny Green missed on two three-point attempts. Juancho Hernangomez missed one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to give Toronto one last gasp, and Leonard scored with seven seconds left to tie the game. But fouls by Ibaka and Leonard proved costly, as Jokic had three free throws to clinch the win for Denver.

The Raptors shot a horrible 2-for-12 from three-point range in the first quarter, but still managed to keep it close. The Nuggets closed the quarter with a 9-2 run to take a 27-24 advantage into the second.

Toronto’s terrible three-point shooting continued in the second — Miles connected on the only one of 10 that fell for the Raptors. Torrey Craig’s three late in the quarter gave the Nuggets a double-digit lead, then Murray had a running dunk off a Craig steal to send Denver into halftime with a 59-47 lead.

The Raptors’ tough stretch in the schedule continues on Wednesday when they host Philadelphia. Among their next dozen opponents are Milwaukee, the L.A. Clippers, Golden State, the Nuggets again but in Denver, and Indiana.

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