The Toronto Raptors continue their longest road trip of the season Wednesday night at the Denver Nuggets, who will be opening up their longest homestand. The Raptors are 2-2 thus far on a six-game trip after topping Portland 99-85 on Monday behind another solid effort by star guard DeMar DeRozan.
He scored 25 points - his fifth straight outing with at least 24 following an 11-point effort in the season opener - and running mate Kyle Lowry chipped in a season-high 19 points to go along with 10 assists. DeRozan had a pair of 30-point games in two wins over the Nuggets last season and will be looking to take advantage of a Denver squad that allowed New York Knicks star forward Kristaps Porzingis to go off for 38 points in a 116-110 loss. The setback left the Nuggets with a 2-2 mark on their first major road trip of the season and sent them home for six straight on a down note, although the fact that they rallied from a 22-point halftime deficit to take a brief third-quarter lead provided a slight positive. “We were into them. We were causing confusion,” guard Jamal Murray told reporters of the comeback. “That is what turned them over so much. We need to have that in the first half from the jump.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, TSN (Toronto), Altitude (Denver)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (4-2): Toronto held Portland to six points in the second quarter - including one basket in the closing seconds - with the reserves doing the bulk of the work, which was not lost on the rest of the team. “They did something big for us holding them to one field goal throughout the whole quarter,” DeRozan told reporters of the bench. “It gave us a great opportunity to go out there and pull out this win.” Lucas Nogueira returned from an ankle injury to provide 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, while fellow center Jonas Valanciunas missed his fourth straight game with a similar ailment.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (3-4): Denver outscored its last two opponents in the third quarter by a 78-40 margin but in both games it trailed at the half, and it entered Tuesday ranked 26th in the NBA in first-half scoring margin (-4.4). “We played with an attack mentality (in the third quarter), like we had nothing to lose,” coach Michael Malone told reporters Monday. “That got us back in the game. You don’t want to get down by 20 before you start playing that way.” Forward Paul Millsap was 2-for-13 from the floor and is shooting 33.3 percent over a four-game stretch.
1. Denver came into Tuesday ranked ninth in the league in 3-point shooting (37.5 percent) while Toronto was 29th (29.9)
2. Murray is averaging 23 points over the last two games after he was held to single digits in four of the first five contests.
3. Raptors PF Serge Ibaka (knee) missed Monday’s game and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Raptors 103, Nuggets 101