Raptors batter Nuggets

Denver Nuggets Jamal Sampson (right) tries to defend against Toronto Raptors Pape Sow during fourth...

Denver Nuggets Jamal Sampson (right) tries to defend against Toronto Raptors Pape Sow during fourth quarter NBA action in Toronto, Friday March 23, 2007. The Raptors defeated the Nuggets 121-94.(CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Late in the first half last night, with the Raptors ahead by four touchdowns, the TV cameras splashed Denver Nuggets coach George Karl on the screen, with his right arm in the air.

Perhaps instructing an assistant as to where to hang the rope.

In a game where the Raptors could do no wrong on offence and the Nuggets could do nothing right, the home side charged ahead to a 29-point lead at the half and glided to a 121-94 victory at the Air Canada Centre over the usually explosive Nuggets.

THAT HURTS

The one downer on the night for the Raptors occurred with five minutes left in the third quarter when Chris Bosh went down with a sprained right ankle after missing a shot when Reggie Evans apparently stuck his foot under him while Bosh was in the air. Bosh limped into the locker room and did not return, although it is not considered too serious.

"I have no idea, that's for the league to make that decision," said Bosh, when asked if Evans tried to trip him purposely. "I felt my foot roll and I knew he stepped into my space."

Evans got his comeuppance late in the fourth when he was fouled hard going to the basket by Rasho Nesterovic and went crashing to the floor. Nesterovic was slapped with a flagrant, but denied that he was out to get Evans, who was cut on the play.

Nesterovic said he was only trying to play good defence.

"I just tried to get the ball, but I was too late and I got him on his face," said Nesterovic, who had five blocks. "(Evans) was a little bit dirty (though), but I don't want to believe he did it on purpose."

The Raptors (38-31) award their fans with free pizza if they score 100 points. Last night, they had a 101 with eight minutes left as neither of Denver's stars, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson managed to contribute anything in a big way, thanks to strong defensive play by Jorge Garbajosa and T.J. Ford, respectively.

Iverson scored 14 points, but added only three assists while Anthony scored 10 with two rebounds.

"We talked about trying to hold Carmelo and A.I. to a certain amount of points, but never in my wildest dreams did I think our defence against that team would be as good as it was," head coach Sam Mitchell said. "I think Garbo had about as complete a game as you can have, rebounding, defensively and shooting."

Ford finished with his 17th double-double of the season, with 14 assists and 14 points to go with three steals.

Garbajosa, who had appeared somewhat tired the last couple of weeks, scored a career high 22 points, along with nine boards. Mitchell started Juan Dixon along side Ford in an attempt to counter the speed of Denver.

INJURIES

The game also featured the return of backup point guard Jose Calderon, who missed the last three games because of a sprained left ankle. Regular starting shooting guard Anthony Parker is still out with a right sprained ankle. Toronto is without rookie forward Andrea Bargnani, who had his appendix removed on Wednesday.

The Nuggets were without starting centre Marcus Camby with a sore back.

Forward Kris Humphries gave Toronto, which made a season-high 49 field goals, a second straight quality outing, picking up seven points with eight rebounds. Morris Peterson scored 23 off the bench, tying a season high.

"I think they might have the best talent in the Eastern Conference," Karl said of the Raptors.

"Detroit probably has the best starters in the league, but this team just has some great players and a chance to be a great team."

The Nuggets laid an egg in the first quarter, starting the game by shooting 0-for-15 before Anthony finally scored on a layup after a bad pass turnover by Bosh.

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REPORT CARD

A Offence: Shot 57% from the field and shared the ball well, picking up 31 assists, compared to 18 for Denver.

B+ Defence: Played extremely well, as the Nuggets, the third-highest scoring team in the NBA, shot 38% from the field and were forced into 15 turnovers, leading directly to 19 Toronto points.


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