Too much 'Melo for Raps

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

DENVER -- One night it's Steve Nash producing game-changing plays and a game-winning shot, the next it's Carmelo Anthony imposing his will.

The NBA is as much a game of individualism than team play, a reality that hit the Raptors on consecutive evenings.

Not surprisingly, the Raptors lost both times.

The latest unfolded last night in the Mile High City, where Anthony was at his best in leading the Nuggets to a 130-112 win.

Anthony and Chris Bosh were Olympic teammates and came into the NBA together, but their games are altogether different.

Melo's ability to handle the ball, play with his face to the basket or post-up make him one of the game's elite.

Bosh was a non-factor for the first time this season last night, in part because Denver played him aggressively, limiting him to just two trips to the line, but also because some of his teammates were looking too much to score.

BOSH FRUSTRATED

Bosh is a lot of things, but he's not a ball-handler and you simply can't give him the ball in the open court and ask him to create.

He needs to play off people.

His frustration boiled over with 7:05 left when he got called for a technical foul. After Denver converted from the line, it led 111-93.

Bosh took a seat for good a minute later, making way for the return of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was claimed off waivers just prior to tipoff.

Bosh exited after scoring a season-low 13 points. He did record 14 rebounds.

It's doubtful Hedo Turkoglu's presence would have altered the outcome.

Turkoglu sat out because of a sore left hip, but there's a chance he'll return for tonight's tip in Utah, where the Raptors wrap up their four-game trip.

The Raptors could have used Turkoglu's decision-making.

There's a reason the Nuggets advanced to last year's Western Conference final.

And against the Raptors, they weren't even at their best, especially in the opening quarter.

Except for Anthony.

Extremely efficient, when Anthony wasn't scoring, he was breaking down the Raptors defence and creating easy baskets for his teammates. When he drew defenders, Denver scored at will in the paint, outscoring the Raptors 68-36.

Anthony had a game-high 32 points in just 30 minutes. He took only 15 shots from the field and attempted 10 free throws.

"The second half got away from us," head coach Jay Triano said. "We were a good team in the first half and in the second half we were not."

The teams were tied 64-64 at the break.

Then Denver broke Toronto's will by beginning the third quarter on a 17-7 run.

"It was a game of points in the paint and they destroyed us," Triano conceded.

Melo ain't no big, but he came up big each time the ball was in his hands.

"He's a mature basketball player," Antoine Wright, who began the game trying to defend Anthony, said. "He's accustomed to rotation and double teams.

"He did a good job of reading our defensive schemes and getting those other guys the ball in spots they needed it."

Offensively, the Raptors were pretty efficient in the first half, their ball movement was good and they were running the floor when forcing turnovers.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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