I have always stayed consistent in trying to be honest in the DNB. In that vain I find it hard to get excited for any of the rest of this season. Jerryd Bayless no longer has to worry about it as he is out for the rest of the year. Demar DeRozan is back though at least there is that. But the season that promised nothing has delivered nothing so to say I am surprised would be a lie. Meanwhile, Andrea Bargnani had just 8 points and allow me to be the first to say that Andrea Bargnani may just be who we thought he was before this season. Actually I have already said that. Truth is the Bargnani post calf injury has been awful. One other note no James Johnson for this one and another under performer in Linas Kleiza replaces him in the starting line-up.
Naturally Andrea Bargnani starts like a house of fire. The Raptors mostly with Bargnani built a 9-2 lead. Bargnani had the first 7 points and than the other guy I mentioned who was struggling drains a three against his former team as Kleiza nails it to make it 12-4 Raptors. DeRozan nails a jumper as he returns to the line-up and the Raptors lead this thing 17-9. Raptors were continuing to keep control of this one lead by Andrea Bargnani with 10 points and they still had a 22-17 lead on pace for pizza with 5 to play in 1st. Nuggets cut it down to three point advantage and Jose Calderon made a jumper to push it to a 5 point lead. Ben Uzoh seeing his first minutes as a Raptor with score 25-20 Raptors. Not much changed while he was in there but he will fit right in with 2 quick fouls and Raptors lead 27-22 after 1.
Gary Forbes hits a three on his former team to get the 2nd quarter going. Forbes with another 2 and like Bargnani had in first it was Forbes starting quarter like a house of fire and Raptors lead 32-22. Some slippage but Forbes again stepped up with a big three. Still the Nuggets were starting to turn the corner. Yet another three this time form Calderon made it a 7 point lead briefly till Al Harrington answered with another three. Bargnani passed 6000 points which they made a huge deal of on the broadcast. Jack Armstrong with some clever wit asked after it occurred if he got a slice of pizza for that. Raptors were still on pace to get pizza and more importantly win a game leading 48-40. Denver was pushing hard this whole quarter and Raptors lead was shrinking fast down the stretch down to just one....then up one for Nuggets on back to back turnovers. Klezia buzzer beater 3 saves the lead at the the half for Raptors 55-53
Raptors came out and built on to their small advantage and got it up to 6 points. The Nuggets had only lead once briefly right before the half. Chandler who many Raptor fans drooled about were not drooling now as he tied the game up at 63. Lawson would give the Nuggets the lead and Dwane Casey frustrated gets called for a tech. The wheels were coming off in this game and honestly in this season to a large degree. Nuggets quickly extended that advantage to 6 points leading 69-63. A JaVale McGee dunk over Jose Calderon summed up how the momentum had changed nicely making it 73-67. DeRozan was doing his best to try to get Raptors back in it with lots of drives to the hoops and the lead was down to 2 with score 74-72 Nuggets. But the Nuggets would respond with a push to get their lead back to 80-74. Alan Anderson one of the 10 day contract guys with a nice three to cut the lead in half. Anderson would score another bucket later than the other 10 day contract guy Uzoh with a bucket to tie the game at 85 after 3.
Nuggets with more on the line came out strong in the 4th and took a lead which can be expected. Raptors would hang around though and finally made a move to do more than that just past the mid point of the 4th. Andrea Bargnani after a Gary Forbes three that cut the lead to one, it was Bargnani that would give the Raptors a 95-94 lead. Raptors would not only get Pizza thanks to Andrea Bargnani but pull away with his three after making the highly intense Pizza on the line free throws. Raptors lead 103-96 and this would be a horrible loss for the Nuggets. There was only 1:45 left and they honestly had not looked great for most of night. Raptors did something they rarely have done as they closed this game out well. Raptors close it out 105-96.
This was a good game for Andrea Bargnani. The fact he has scored over 6000 points honests means nothing. It is just a garbage T.V trick to make you care about something that doesn't matter. What does matter is does this continue or is it a blip on the Radar. Bargnani since his explosive start to the season since returning has been much more like the Bargnani we have seen in the 6 years prior. I get that people want to believe he has turned some corner but I am not convinced you can honestly say that. Aside from him you saw nice efforts from the two 10 day pick ups by the Raptors. You also saw a solid performance from the former Nuggets Forbes and to a lesser extent Kleiza. It was a good win for the Raptors and a terrible loss for the Nuggets. In a game like this you can learn some things. Denver needed this badly and the Raptors out competed them under those circumstances. That is a positive sign for the future. A small one but still a positive.