Patience a virtue when Raps meet Nuggets

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

The temptation is to match fire with fire, get up and down the floor at a pace more conducive to track meets.

As much as the Raptors want to heave shots when open looks exist, history has shown them the inherent pitfalls when playing the Denver Nuggets, who make their one and only visit to the Air Canada Centre today.

The Nuggets aren't one of those grind-it-out teams looking to play in the half court.

They aren't as interested in playing a possession game as they are in wanting to create a tempo that suits their transition tendencies.

During the Raptors' 0-5 trip to the NBA's West, the Nuggets torched Toronto 137-105, scoring 79 points in the opening half, the most any foe has posted in Raptors' history.

Almost from the opening tip, the Raptors played defence as though it was an afterthought, allowing the host Nuggets to score 44 points in the first quarter, the most any team has produced against the Raptors.

Chris Bosh watched the horror in a nifty suit as he rested his injured right knee.

"It was one of those games you want to forget because the more you think about it, the more it hurts,'' Bosh said yesterday.

The Nuggets hung 168 points on Seattle in their next game after the Raptors.

"Just incredible,'' Bosh said.

"The key for us is we have to play defence. We can't play into their hands. When the game gets fast, it's real tempting to get up and down and shoot quick shots. We have to make sure we take good, quality shots and get back on defence."

Bosh's presence in the post at least gives the Raptors a chance of slowing the game's pace by dumping the ball into the paint.

On most nights, the Raptors like to run, but they are not equipped to run with Denver, meaning every possession must be valued.

"We have to make (Denver) play defence,'' Bosh said.

DENVER'S WEAK D

It's an area that has severely eroded Denver's chances of moving up in the competitive West, a source of concern for head coach George Karl that isn't likely to be corrected any time soon.

The Nuggets can go on a 20-0 run and then allow any opponent to get right back into the game by failing to defend, much like they did in Friday's win in New Jersey.

"Welcome to Denver Nuggets-land," Karl said afterward. "We play so fast, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's dangerous."

In preparing for today's game, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell took a close look at Philly's win over the Nuggets on Wednesday.

"Philly is athletic enough that they took away transition points,'' he said. "Denver had only 15 fast-break points."

Patience, Mitchell insists, will be critical for his Raptors, who will get looks against the defensively challenged Nuggets. "We have to limit possessions,'' Mitchell said of Denver's high-octane offence. "We have to compact the game."


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