By: Josh Weinstein
The Toronto Raptors visit to the Mile High City proved unfruitful, as the Denver Nuggets handed the team its first double-digit loss of the early season. The final score of 129-111 made the game seem even closer than it was. At one point in the third quarter, the Raptors trailed by a whopping 36 points.
After an impressive defensive performance against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, the Raptors allowed Denver to climb out to a 34-19 lead after the first. Things didn’t get much better as the game progressed. The Nuggets finished the night knocking down 53.4 percent of their field goals, and 50 percent of their shots from long-range. Allowing a team to shoot that efficiently is quite the recipe for disaster.
Norman Powell led the Raptors with 14 points on an efficient 6 of 11 field goals. Other than Powell, there really weren’t any major bright spots for Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry finished with a combined 19 points on 40 percent shooting. Whenever the Raptors all-star backcourt underperforms with lacklustre scoring totals like they did in Denver, the team really has that much slimmer chance of leaving the court with a win. Both DeRozan and Lowry are such focal points of the Raptors offence, meaning that when they struggle, the team follows suit.
On the flipside, there were a few positive takeaways despite the loss.
Alfonzo McKinnie checked in with the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter and didn’t disappoint in his eight minutes of court time. The former G-League standout finished with 9 points and one three-pointer on a perfect 3 for 3 shooting night. McKinnie’s poise is a welcome sight that the Raptors made the right choice in signing the 25-year-old to a multi-year deal.
Delon Wright, one of the biggest standouts for the Raps this season, continued his steady play, with 12 points and 6 assists in 25 minutes. Casey’s trust in Wright continues to grow with each passing game.
Jonas Valanciunas was effective in limited minutes, scoring 8 points and hauling in 5 rebounds. Serge Ibaka also returned to the starting five. He finished with 11 points.
Jamal Murray led Denver with 24 points. Nikola Jokic added 8 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists in the winning effort.
Next up, the Raptors look to bounce back Friday night in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz. Tip-off is set for 9 Eastern.