December 17, 2018 / 3:57 AM / 5 months ago

Murray gets hot late as Nuggets hold off Raptors

EditorsNote: Adds “points” to lead; corrects length of Toronto drought without FG; minor edits

Jamal Murray scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Toronto Raptors 95-86 on Sunday night.

Nikola Jokic finished with 26 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which won the matchup of conference leaders.

Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 29 points and added 14 rebounds, Delon Wright scored 15 and Serge Ibaka had 14 points for short-handed Toronto.

The Raptors played without four rotation players and only 10 available bodies. Guards Kyle Lowry (thigh bruise) and Fred VanVleet (low back soreness), forward Pascal Siakam (back stiffness) and center Jose Valanciunas (dislocated left thumb).

Toronto scored just 14 points in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets were without forward Paul Millsap (broken toe), guard Gary Harris (hip) and guard Will Barton (core muscle surgery). Barton is expected back in the next two weeks.

Toronto won the early battle of the injured teams with a 16-0 run spanning the second and third quarters. Denver led 39-36 with 3:15 left in the first half but Leonard had six points and Ibaka five to give the Raptors a 52-39 lead early in the third quarter.

The Nuggets got within four, but Leonard’s first 3-pointer made it 70-57 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, but the Raptors went cold from the field. Denver closed out the period on an 11-2 run, then scored the first 12 points of the fourth to go ahead 80-72.

Murray hit his first four shots of the period, including two 3-pointers, while Toronto missed nine straight shots and two free throws in that stretch. The Raptors didn’t hit a field goal for 6:20, a drought that was broken on Leonard’s dunk with 7:42 left.

Denver pushed the lead to nine, but Toronto scored six straight to make it 86-83 with 3:28 left. Mason Plumlee hit a layup, Murray scored on a finger roll and Jokic’s 6-foot floater made it 92-85 with 1:41 left.

The Raptors called a timeout, but Ibaka fouled out on a moving screen to end any comeback hopes.

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