Road weary-ers

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony beat a marijuana rap yesterday and then smoked the Raptors.

Pot possession charges filed earlier this year against the sophomore were dismissed prior to last night's game at the Pepsi Center and Anthony celebrated by going out and killing the fatigued Raptors.

Anthony scored 30 points, going 16-for-16 from the free throw line, as the Nuggets emerged victorious in a physical, see-saw battle, 112-106. He also had five fouls.

Teammate Kenyon Martin was a monster in the frontcourt for Denver, adding 24 points and hauling in 16 boards while blocking two shots and generally punishing the Raptors in the paint.

Despite the six-point difference, the game went right down to the line, Denver sealing the victory when rookie Raptors forward Matt Bonner missed a 16-foot jump shot with seven seconds left and Toronto trailing 110-106.

"He was supposed to get the ball to Vince or Rafer," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said of the play. "But when someone makes a mistake on our team, what our guys have to go is go pat him on the butt and tell him to forget about it."

The loss ended a heartbreaking, six-game West Coast road trip for the Raps. Toronto went 1-5 on the swing, despite being in every game except one, and are now below .500 (4-5) for the first time this season.

"It's tough when you give up 56 points in the paint," Mitchell said, of last night's game.

The loss also wasted a superb effort by Toronto guard Jalen Rose, who had 30 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Rose attacked the basket all night, going 15-for-16 from the free throw line.

Vince Carter chipped in with 14 points.

"I'm proud of our guys," Mitchell said. "Every team we've played (on the trip) might be a playoff team. Every game has been a tough game."

The scrappy Nuggets, who improved to 3-5, were without regular forwards Marcus Camby (strained left hamstring), Nene (strained) hamstring and guard Voshon Lenard (Achilles).

The Raptors head home for a game tomorrow night against the Seattle SuperSonics, after 10 days on the road.

"I've learned the NBA has to keep people off 12-day road trips," Mitchell said. "It's tough. Guys are tired and the thing about the trip, all the games were back-to-back.

"But that's just how it is. If we can hang in there and the schedule turns in our favour we're prepared to (make a run)."

Toronto's bench was strong again, led by centre Jerome Moiso who had 11 rebounds. Bonner had 10 points and five rebounds. Morris Peterson also had 10 points.

"There were some calls of question not in our favour and that really made it tough and kind of put it out of reach," said Carter of some of the calls that did not go against the aggressive Martin.


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