Toronto Raptors Show Grit in Loss to Denver Nuggets

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IMarch 27, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 02:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors yells to the defense against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After a couple of really poor efforts at home, the Toronto Raptors came to life against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough as Toronto fell 97-96 on a buzzer beater by Carmelo Anthony after a mad scramble for the ball.

The game was notable for several reasons.

The Raptors outworked their opponent on this night. Consider the following statistics:

58-38 edge in rebounds.
6-1 block advantage.
47.1 to 41.2 shooting percentage in the Raptors favor.

All say Toronto deserved to win this game.

Sonny Weems got the start over DeMar DeRozan and their stats and their play say IT'S ABOUT TIME!  Both players had good games.

Hedo Turkoglu missed the game because of illness, and Antoine Wright was solid as his replacement.

Marco Belinelli also got some time and played well on both ends of the floor.

But the Raptors faced some obstacles they were unable to overcome.

1. Toronto turned the ball over 18 times, versus seven for Denver.
2. Denver got to the free throw line 31 times versus just 16 for Toronto.
3. Bosh went 2-4 from the free throw line in the closing moments of the fourth quarter.  4. Missed points that proved critical in the end.

But these statistics are slightly misleading.

Bosh, who had five turnovers (this is now a disturbing trend), was turned over in the lane by a hand to the face.  A hand hard enough to stop Bosh in his tracks. The no call proved critical in this close game.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Bosh got a foul call driving the lane as he was bringing the ball through the arms of the Denver defenders. Somehow, the referees thought Bosh wasn’t trying to score just eight feet from the basket and called that foul on the floor.

It was almost a shock that Bosh actually got the foul call with 16 seconds left in the game on the broken play after Nene poked the ball from his hands.

At the other end of the floor, the Birdman got two shots for tripping over his own feet driving the lane, and JR was put on the line for blowing the fast break layup even though he was well out of reach of Belinelli who was trying to catch him.

And Nene was put on the line after being fouled in the lane as he caught the ball off his shoe tops. Nene never even brought the ball up after he was fouled.

But in the end, it was more the disparity in the free throw attempts that stands out over any one individual play.

And the Raptors have only themselves to blame for most of their turnovers and the missed free throws.

Andrea Bargnani had one of his best effort games with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. But he had a tough shooting night, going 5-13.

Jarrett Jack had four turnovers in 21 minutes, and shot 2-11 continuing a disturbing trend of poor shooting. Jack is averaging just 34 percent from the field over his last five games.

And Chris Bosh ended up with 18 points, 12 boards, and two blocks. But Bosh’s scoring continues to be well below his 24 point season average since his return from injury. And the Raptors really miss those points.

The Raptors showed another great effort against an elite team.  If they can hold onto this form, the stretch drive to the playoffs should turn out in their favor.


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