Raptors Rewind- Defense Goes Pops

Let's start with who will play. Antonie Wright is in and so is Pops Mensah-Bonsu. The rumors became reality today as it was announced the Raptors have claimed Pops off waivers from the Houston Rockets who had released Pops. This is all possible thanks to the Raptors releasing Quincy Douby. So that is the good news. The bad is the Raps will have to go without Hedo Turkoglu tonight who is out with his sore hip. Ironically this is off one of his better games as a Raptor in a tough loss to the Suns. The Raps will try to have enough wind to steal one in Denver. It won't be easy though, just ask the Lakers who got beat badly by this Nuggets squad. Carmelo Anthony has been just as good if not better for Denver as Bosh has been for the Raptors. So let's see what happens in the mile high city. Raps also have a game vs Utah tomorrow just to make things even a little more fun. Expect lots of people to see the floor and hope we get a defensive effort like the one the Raps had in the state of Arizona tonight in Colorado. This is also the place last season that of course was the end of the line for Sam Mitchell. Let's hope for a much better night tonight.,

1st Quarter

Nuggets win the tip and we are off and running as Nene scores on the Nuggets first trip. Bosh has an answer with a fading jumper for 2. Jose Calderon with a block..HE DID WHAT? Yup...Calderon a block leads to a Demar DeRozan 3 pointer which is also rare. Antonie Wright is in the starting line-up in place of Hedo by the way. He takes a charge on Nene looked like he was in the circle but will take it. DeRozan hits a 2 point jumper and he has 5 as part of an 8-0 run to give the Raps an 8-2 lead early. Wright an ugly miss as the Nuggets have fought back to down just 2. The ball went out off Denver and Jose hits a jumper to make it 10-6 Raps. Bargnani picks ups his second foul early and Amir Johnson checks in. Anthony and Calderon trade buckets and Raps lead 12-8. Demar DeRozan has a hot hand hits a jumper then gets it on the break and draws a foul. He makes 1 of 2 at the line and has 8 points early to lead the Raps.

Wright hits a 3 ball and the Raps are doubling the Nuggets early 18-9. Maybe that horrible start back in L.A has helped the Raps learn it is important to come to the gym ready to play. Raps keep it rolling along as they go inside to Bosh who scores on the hook shot. Fellow team USA member Carmelo Anthony answers with a bucket and then another. Raps have a turnover and here come the Nuggets. Mello at the line looking to add to his personal run..he makes 1 of 2. Another mistake and Raps pay for with an easy score by the Nuggets. Raps lead is now to just 20-15. Carmelo is on fire as he is scoring all the points for Denver. Belinelli an ugly first shot on his night. Raptors were not looking good but still up 4 with score 23-19. More Mello and he has 14 and is keeping the Nuggets in this thing single handed. Birdman gets an offensive board and score. Sonny Weems going against his former team gets on the score sheet. Chris Bosh back in the game and scoring off the offensive glass. J.R Smith answers with a 3 and the Raps lead is just 1. Ty Lawson gets REJECTED by Sonny Weems out of bounce....welcome to the league rookie. Raps escape the first quarter with a 29-28 lead.

2nd Quarter.

I forget to mention it made me smile to see Joey Graham sitting on a bench that was not the Raptors. Jack starts the second with a drive and score and he needs a play like that. J.R Smith missed an open look for 3...Raps catch a break there. They do not the second time around, as J.R gets the kind roll of the rim for a 3. That ties it up at 31. Bargnani makes a pair at the line. Belinelli and J.R Smith trade 3's. After that ANDREA BARGNANI DRIVES AND PUTS THE BIRDMAN ON A POSTER. Belinelli gets back in on the act with another 3 ball. That is like a Rocky Balboa 1, 2 combo punch. Raps lead it 41-34.

Sonny Weems gets rejected by the Birdman. J.R Smith and Belinelli trade 3 balls again and it is 44-37 Raps. Smith on the drive this time after a Bargnani missed 3. Weems opens up the bank in Denver and adds 2 points to his total. Jack is having a better night tonight and he draws a foul gets to the line and makes a pair and extends Raptors lead to 8. Raps looking a bit out of gas and Nuggets closed the gap to 5. Call Jack-Alley and Weems-OPP as they hook up to get the Raps lead back to 9 with 5:14 to play they lead 54-45. Weems is getting more PT and taking advantage of it. Demar DeRozan hits a jumper over Mello looking really good. Nuggets would push back and get an assist from the refs. Bosh had what looked like a clean block and it was called goaltending. The Raptors lead that maxed out at 11 had been cut to just 4 as Mello was having a half (He has 21 in half) despite his Nuggets trailing for most of it. Raptors lead 58-54. The calls were not going the Raps way and Jay Triano was an unhappy man and had a right to be. Nene would get a basket and the Raps lead was just down to 2. Nuggets with some help from the guys with the whistles had tied it up at 58.

Bosh hits a jumper and hits...Mello answers with a score and he would get a foul call as well. Missed the and 1 to give the Nuggets the lead. Tied at 60 with 1:30 to play. Off an inbound play Calderon takes and makes for 2. Nuggets answer with a Nene basket. Bargnani hit a nice leaner and got a block on D. Raps lead it 64-62. Raps would get the final possession and a chance to add to that. Raps would not score and Mello would get out on the break and hit a lay-up. Score tied at 64 at the half. 23 points in the half for him and Raps fans were getting to see why some folks are talking MVP for the man they call Mello.

3rd Quarter

I mentioned in my interview with Matt Devlin today how impressive the Raptors offense had been. That they could score with anyone in the NBA. The first half of this game is like exhibit A to that argument. The problem is the Nuggets can score with anyone as well and we had a ABA style halftime score and both teams shooting north of 50%. Bosh has not been to the line yet in this game. Mello has been and that is one of the reasons the Nuggets are in this one. Mello was 7 of 8 from the line as part of his 23 point first half.

Bosh scores on a second chance off a Jose miss to open the half. Billups blows by to the hole and it is 66 all. Demar DeRozan had a good first half and started the second as he draws foul on Nene and gets to the line. Makes them both. Nuggets would answer and a Bosh turnover and another Denver score they had their first lead since 2-0. Jose Calderon answers with a 3 pointer. K-Mart and Bosh trade baskets and the Raps lead was 1. Bosh gets to the line for the first time on the night and missed the first and got a heck of a sweet bounce to have the second one fall. The game was tied once more at 74.

Nuggets were getting to the line and then Mello hits for 2 and Denver had it largest lead of the night of 5. Carmelo does it again and he has 27 and the Nuggets lead is 7. Time Out RAPTORS!!! Raptor failed to score out of the time out but the Nuggets fail to score as well. Sonny Weems wants PT and he is getting it and using it well as he scores another basketball. Belinelli would follow that with a score plus a fouls Raps had the lead down to 4. Another call would draw the ire Jay Triano. The Nuggets had an 8-2 run going and lead 89-81. Raps just seem a step slower this half and the Nuggets are still coming strong. The Raps defense was labouring and the Nuggets were getting some easy scores 94-85. The Raptors had the gas tank light flashing and needed a spark badly. A foul on Carmelo Anthony was not what they had in mind. Denver takes an 8 point lead to the 4 quarter leading it 97-89. Anthony had 32 points after 3 quarters. Nuggets were shooting 60% and that is not good.

4th Quarter

J.R Smith hit the deck and hit the shot over Rasho and that may just tell you all you need to know. Everything was going the Nuggets way. Open 3 for Afflalo and this game was off the rails. Jay Triano was forced to call a time out but it may have been to little to late. The Raptors trail 104-89. A Bosh miss leads to points in transition for Denver. Back to back buckets for Bargnani but it was a case of to little to late.

The Raptors just seemed to not have anything left and they seemed frustrated by the calls not going their way on this night. A clear path foul would give the Nuggets 108-93 lead. There real is not a lot to say about what is going on at this point. We did get a Jack Armstrong HELLO and at this point that might be the hi-light of the quarter. Bosh would get technical foul and was unhappy and a foul after that Bosh thought was shooting and the Refs did not. The Denver lead had swelled to 18. Before Bosh would get himself thrown out. His streak of scoring 20+ had come to an end.

Patrick O'Bryant and Pops Mensah-Bonsu checking in for Bosh and Bargnani tells you all you need to to know. About the only positive on the night was the performance of Demar DeRozan. He was in during garbage time and working with a career high 17 points. Also Joey G you remember him right? He was getting in some time. The Score? You really don't want to know. Raps were down 124-105. Carmelo Anthony was making head band fashion statements and telling jokes to Mr. Big Shot. While J.R Smith checked out blowing kisses to the crowd. It was not quite as bad as when Sam Mitchell coached his last game. However it was closer to that than it was to good. The Nuggets takes this one by a score of 130-112. Nuggets shot 61% and the any thoughts the Raps had solved their defensive questions...think again

A first for Demar DeRozan he leads the Raps in scoring with 17. Bosh had just 13 on the night only getting to the line twice to go along with 14 rebounds. No time to cry about it though as the Raps hop a plane heading for Salt Lake City and a date with the Jazz.

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