Well, this one sucked.
In a game that contained seemingly everything but a Raptors victory, Toronto (12-8) fell 106-105 to the Denver Nuggets (7-13) Thursday evening in the first contest of a six-game home stand at the Air Canada Centre. It wasn't pretty, either.
For the second time in as many days, the Raps came out of the gate ice-cold in the first half. But unlike Wednesday's thrilling come from behind win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Dinos' early mistakes ended up being too much to overcome as the tilt reached its later stages.
Trailing 56-42 at the half, Toronto was shooting just 34.8 percent from the field while going 3-for-14 from deep. The Nuggets, losers of eight in a row heading into the tilt, were looking like a well-oiled machine thanks to a 47.8 field goal percentage and 18 assists compared to the Raptors' seven.
Toronto looked much better out of the gate in the third but failed to gain any ground due to the Nuggets' persistent three-point shooting. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Raptors trailed by 10 before they decided to make a game of it again.
The Nuggets aided the Raptors' comeback attempt in the fourth quarter thanks to a litany of sloppy turnovers which brought this matchup down to the wire. With the score 102-99 and 26 seconds left on the clock, three Raptors effectively swarmed Will Barton before poking the ball free from the 24-year-old's hands.
After calling a timeout, Lowry drove to the hoop but saw his frantic lay-up attempt go awry and didn't receive a foul call from the refs. The usually dependable Scola suddenly channeled his inner Bismack Biyombo on offense and couldn't catch the ball, causing it to sail out of bounds as the Raps' comeback chances went down the drain with it.
DeMar DeRozan was the lone bright spot for Toronto in this one. DeRozan finished with a team-high 34 points on 14-for-26 shooting, while Lowry (16 points, eight assists) and Cory Joseph (15 points) also contributed solid performances. Will Barton (22 points), Danilo Gallinari (21) and Darrell Arthur (19) led the way for the young Nuggets in a much-needed win.
With the undefeated Golden State Warriors on tap for Saturday, some may call Thursday's effort a trap game. It's very likely the Raptors could have overlooked the Nuggets, a team that's scoring just 96.2 points per game this season and was losing by an average of 19 points during its eight-game slide.
But there were plenty of areas of concern, and Lowry can't put on his Superman cape and save the day like he did against Atlanta every night.
Sure comebacks are exciting, but if the Raptors want to even think about getting out of the first round of the playoffs this year they'll need to snap this habit of digging themselves out of early holes immediately.
I think I got my first few grey hairs tonight. What did you guys make of the game?