Kicked in the Nuggets

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

DENVER -- Raptors discipline vanished into the thin mountain air here last night in a 39-point loss that shook the team from top to bottom.

They were dusted 132-93, their largest margin of defeat this season and fifth-worst in franchise history.

"It's early in the season, but we have to get our heads out of our butts and go play," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said.

Not that the Nuggets make it easy on visitors with their potent brand of basketball at both ends, but Toronto was too willing to fall into the trap and too unwilling to work its way out in losing the second of three games against quality Western Conference opponents on this trip.

That was with Jermaine O'Neal making it back in the starting lineup for 19 minutes and a 24-point game from Chris Bosh before he was mercifully lifted at the start of the fourth quarter.

"As professionals, we have to be ashamed of ourselves. It was embarrassing not only for us, but for a lot of people that support the Raptors, the city and the country," O'Neal said.

"Tonight we have to go back to the hotel and address it as a team, how we can't seem to get over the hump."

Toronto forced shots early on without working the ball inside and then resorted to three-point attempts. Too many uncontested baskets were there for the Nuggets, who had 24 first-half points in the paint to Toronto's 10.

The Raptors didn't get the calls, they had balls slip through their fingers and in a fitting end to the first half, Chauncey Billups took a high pass from Kenyon Martin off the back of Jose Calderon's head and then sank a three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Raptors actually started the night on a 6-0 run, but were behind 33-19 by the end of the quarter and by 19 at the half.

After the Los Angeles Lakers beat them Sunday, coach Sam Mitchell talked about their difficulty with transition defence.

"It's something that we've talked about the past two weeks, work on it in practice every day and then at shootarounds, talk about it again, meet about it before the game," he said. "During a game we'll keep encouraging our guys and keep demanding that they push the ball and not have to play (in their own zone)."

Billups had 24 points, with Carmelo Anthony added 23 for the Nuggets.

Denver was paying close attention to Bosh, especially Olympic teammate Anthony, who saw nothing wrong with a little promotion for Bosh for MVP prior to the game.

"He's in a zone," Anthony said. "Right now it's early, every week we'll be talking about someone else. But if this was the end of the year, he'd be in there."

Added Denver coach George Karl: "He hasn't rested on his skills. He's now a great jump shooter, he probably now has as good a perimeter game and post-up game and he has earned that and learned that through hard work."

Bosh had a double-double in the first half and was

10-for-10 on free throws as Toronto was able to maintain its league-leading free-throw percentage.

O'Neal had his moments in his first appearance in three games. His left ankle appeared to be sound with an eye to playing Friday in Utah.

Anthony, whose streak of 222 consecutive games with 10-plus points ended on Sunday, made it back from an elbow injury without missing a start, but one-time Raptor Billups picked up the still-ailing forward with 21 first-half points.


Videos

Photos