Raptors 109, Nuggets 108

Held in check after a great first quarter, Rudy Gay said he

wasn’t proud of his performance.

None of his Toronto Raptors teammates saw anything to complain

about.

Gay hit a pull-up jump shot with less than five seconds

remaining and the Raptors beat the short-handed Denver Nuggets

109-108 on Tuesday.

It was the second game-winner in three games for Gay, who beat

Indiana with an overtime jumper last Friday.

”He’s a big time player,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

”He’s a closer.”

Only four of Gay’s 17 points came after the first, and he spent

long stretches of the second half stuck on the bench after landing

in foul trouble.

”It just feels good to get a win,” said Gay, acquired from

Memphis on Jan. 30 in a three-team trade. ”Obviously it’s a not a

game I’m proud of, but I’m proud to get this win.”

Denver coach George Karl said before the game that Gay has given

the Raptors ”a different personality.”

”They seem to have more energy,” Karl said.

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said there’s an obvious change in

Toronto’s confidence since adding Gay to the lineup.

”Rudy brings that because Rudy is a confident person,” Lawson

said. ”He makes big shots.”

DeMar DeRozan had 22 points and John Lucas scored 12 of his 14

points in the final quarter as the Raptors won their third

straight.

Kyle Lowry had 11 points and 10 assists and Alan Anderson had 10

for Toronto, which made seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Lawson led Denver with 29 points, Kenneth Faried had 15 points

and 11 rebounds and Anthony Randolph scored 16.

”It seems like the ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” Karl said.

”A lot of things were going against us.”

The Nuggets had to juggle their starting lineup due to the

absences of leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (sinus infection) and

third-leading scorer Andre Iguodala (strained neck). Corey Brewer

started in place of Gallinari, while rookie Evan Fournier took over

for Iguodala.

”That’s tough,” Lawson said. ”We didn’t know till today so we

couldn’t really plan for it.”

Denver was also depleted by the loss of forward Wilson Chandler,

sidelined by a sore groin. Things got worse for the Nuggets when

center JaVale McGee left at halftime with a sore left leg.

Andre Miller scored 12 points for the Nuggets, who came in

having won nine of their past 10 overall and 15 of their past 17

meetings with Toronto.

Denver lost its second straight after having a nine-game winning

streak snapped with a triple OT loss at Boston on Sunday.

”This one is even harder for me than Boston,” Karl said.

Lucas’ third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter put Toronto up

91-83 with 9:10 remaining, but Denver scored six straight points to

make it 91-89.

Anderson hit Toronto’s sixth 3-pointer of the fourth, putting

the Raptors up 100-94 with 5:13 to play, but Lawson scored six of

the next eight points, all on layups, before a reverse layup by

Brewer tied it at 102-all with 3:02 left.

After Denver took a 108-107 lead on a pair of free throws by

Randolph with 42 seconds left, the Raptors recovered the ball

following a missed shot, then called timeout to draw up a play for

Gay, who hit the go-ahead basket over Brewer from just outside the

paint.

A driving Lawson got off a final chance for the Nuggets, but his

shot rimmed out at the buzzer.

”I was supposed to get the handoff and then it was basically a

one-on-one,” Lawson said. ”I fumbled it a little bit. Kyle Lowry

got his hand on it. I had to rush the shot with two seconds left. I

think I got the best shot I could get.”

The Raptors led 22-9 after Gay’s 3-pointer with 4:07 left in the

first but the Nuggets fought back to make it 28-21 after one

quarter. Gay scored 13 points in the first and DeRozan had eight

for Toronto.

DeRozan opened the second quarter with a soaring dunk over

Denver’s Timofey Mozgov, and Toronto rookie Terrence Ross, who’ll

compete in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend, later added a

breakaway dunk to put the Raptors up 43-31 with 6:28 left in the

half. But the Nuggets got 14 points from Lawson in the second,

slicing the deficit to 54-52 at the half.

Gay called DeRozan’s eye-popping slam ”one of the craziest

dunks I’ve ever seen.”

”The sky’s the limit for him, he’s an incredible talent,” Gay

said.

Denver took its first lead since the game’s opening basket on a

dunk by Faried with 7:02 left in the third, but Toronto closed the

quarter with back-to-back baskets by Lucas and DeRozan to take an

82-78 lead into the fourth.

NOTES: This was Toronto’s first victory over the Nuggets since a

105-96 home win March 28, 2012. … Andrea Bargnani returned after

sitting out Sunday’s win over New Orleans with flulike symptoms.

… Kosta Koufos had 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. … Toronto

allowed a season-high 70 points in the paint. … Denver has scored

100 points or more in 12 straight games. … Both teams were off to

New York for their final game before the All-Star break. Toronto

visits the Knicks on Wednesday while Denver is in Brooklyn to face

the Nets.