Raptors simply roadkill

MIKE KOREEN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

DENVER -- The formula for winning games does not include corralling 21 fewer rebounds than an opponent and draining six of 24 three-point shots.

The Raptors accomplished those two statistical feats last night, and the result was predictable.

A 117-109 loss against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center dropped Toronto's record on its West Coast swing to 0-4 and extended its losing streak to five games. The Raptors, who have lost 12 road games in a row dating back to last season, conclude this trip tomorrow night against the NBA-leading Utah Jazz.

"Once again, when it's time for us to make a big play, we're coming up short," said Raptors point guard T.J. Ford, who played his best game in a Toronto uniform, notching a career-high 18 assists -- including a franchise record 13 in the first half -- and 26 points.

"When we need a big shot and we're getting a good look, it's just not dropping for us."

A perfect example came with the Raptors, behind almost the entire game, trailing by six in the final minute. Fred Jones and Jorge Garbajosa both clanked balls off the rim from three-point range, preventing the Raptors from getting within serious striking distance in their second game in as many nights.

"It's (not) nervous(ness)," said Jones, who was a rough 4-for-13 from the field. "We've been doing this our whole life. You want the shots, you take them, you embrace them. Personally, every one of my shots feels like it's going in, it's just not falling for me. Now, the only thing I can do is hope to get home off this road trip, get in the gym and stay in there until it comes around. I'm devoted to it, I'm going to make it happen, I know it's going to change around for me."

While Raptors star Chris Bosh leads the league in rebounding -- he had nine last night to go along with 31 points -- the rest of the team is falling quite short in that department. The Nuggets outrebounded the Raptors 58-37.

"It's never the shots, we had a pretty decent shooting percentage," Bosh said. "We just have to finish with the rebound. They outworked us. And to get outrebounded by that much, it's just unacceptable. One day it's rebounding, one day it's defence, one day it's not making shots."

Garbajosa, starting for the second night in a row in Rasho Nesterovic's spot, continued his solid play, picking up 17 points and 10 rebounds.

But the Raptors bench didn't do much of anything, scoring just 14 points.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 34 points, tying Raptors assistant coach Alex English's Denver franchise record for consecutive games with 30-plus points at six.

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REPORT CARD

C Offence: Every time the Raptors have a chance to really gain momentum, they seem to miss a shot. The offence produces in spurts, but it is not consistent.

C- Defence: Killed on the boards and looking out of sync, it was just a typical night at the office for the Raptors.


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