Nuggets feast on Raptors

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

DENVER -- It was fitting that the Raptors wore their red uniforms last night.

Their West Coast swing was about as successful as the election campaign of another red squad, the losing Liberals.

A night after Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant torched the Raptors for 81 points, Toronto faltered in the second half, perhaps a sign of fatigue, as they lost for the fourth time in five games on a bad trip.

This time, it was Carmelo Anthony doing the major damage, scoring 37 points on 13-for-16 shooting to lead his Denver Nuggets to a 107-101 victory over the Raptors.

The 1-4 trip (featuring five games in seven days) was not what the doctor ordered for the Raptors, who had hoped to make some headway in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Nuggets have won six in a row.

The Raptors (14-28) were pathetic in third quarters out West, being outscored by 40 points. The Nuggets were six points better in the third last night and the Raptors scored 47 points in the second half. The Raptors have lost 15 of their past 16 games two or more time zones away.

Fortunately, the Raptors play six of their next seven at home, including a game tomorrow night against the Chicago Bulls.

The Raptors led 54-52 at halftime before Denver went on an 11-2 run to open the third quarter to go up 63-56. A few minutes later, it was 69-60.

Mike James led the Raptors with 22 points, Jalen Rose had 21 and Chris Bosh notched 18.

Interestingly, struggling rookie Joey Graham never got off the bench last night for the Raptors, the first game he has not played this season.

Coach Sam Mitchell made one lineup change, giving Eric Williams his first start of the season in place of acting centre Matt Bonner.

Instead of folding like a cheap suit like they did in the final game of their previous Western journey this season, the Raptors came out with energy and rode some balanced scoring to a 54-52 halftime lead. Pape Sow didn't look out of place, giving the team some decent minutes in the middle, along with Williams and Bonner.

Sow tied his career high with nine points, while Bonner also matched a career high with nine rebounds.


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