The Denver Nuggets started out exactly as they should have against a Toronto Raptors’ team that was playing small by having Paul Millsap bully the smaller man for an easy bucket before Norman Powell converted a putback layup. Following a miss by Will Barton, Fred VanVleet got an easy triple to fall. A miss by Michael Porter Jr. was followed up by a quick triple from Powell. Millsap got the scoring going again after a short drought with floater from six feet.
Kyle Lowry turned it over, but he blocked Millsap at the rim before dishing an assist to Pascal Siakam from 3-point range. Barton fouled Lowry following a bad miss, but O.G. Anunoby was called for a moving screen on the inbounds play. Nikola Jokic looked like the big kid on the playground with an easy layup over Anunoby, but Siakam knocked down the team’s fourth triple of the game to take an eight-point lead. Millsap missed a shot from 3-point range, but VanVleet did not which stretched the lead to 11 and led to a Denver timeout.
Jamal’s got it going early pic.twitter.com/NT1xYl0Ksn
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 25, 2021
Out of the timeout, a Jokic turnover turned into a quick layup for Siakam, and the deficit wasn’t getting smaller before Jamal Murray found an offensive rebound for an easy layup. Siakam went down in a hurry for a layup of his own before Murray hit an acrobatic layup through some contact to send him to the line for a 3-point play that he converted. VanVleet hit a pair of free throws, and Murray was unable to answer on a contested layup. A pair of missed layups ended with Siakam getting fouled by Millsap at the rim to send him to the free-throw line. Siakam went 1-of-2 at the line before Murray converted a jumper from 10 feet.
Anunoby hit a triple of his own, and Toronto had more than doubled up Denver with a 27-13 lead. Jokic put back an offensive rebound for two. Denver put in another two following a Toronto miss before Siakam missed a triple and Porter cashed a big 3-pointer of his own to give the team their first triple of the game to bring them within seven. Deandre Bembry putback a dunk off a timeout miss which ended a 9-0 run for Denver before P.J. Dozier hit a triple for his first points of the night.
Siakam and Murray traded triples. Down by eight, JaMychal Green missed a shot short before Aron Baynes was called for an offensive foul. Empty possessions ended with a fadeaway jumper by Murray to bring them within six with 1:26 remaining. VanVleet was fouled and made a pair at the line. Anunoby stole the ball from Murray for a dunk to stretch the lead back to double digits. Following a wild 10 seconds or so Zeke Nnaji was fouled and sent to the line where he went 2-of-2. The quarter ended with Denver trailing 30-38 which was the most points they had given up in a first quarter all season.
Out of the quarter break, Facundo Campazzo found Green for a layup with the shot clock winding down, but Lowry hit Anunoby for another 3-point make. Green nearly airballed one with the clock winding down, and Siakam followed him up by drawing a foul in the paint on the other end before nailing a pair of free throws. Green got an offensive rebound up for two points before R.J. Hampton forced a miss out of Siakam. Green couldn’t anything going from downtown, but he got his second straight offensive rebound back into the hoop for two points.
The only problem with Denver’s putback layups was the 3-point shots Denver was giving up with one from Chris Boucher. Nnaji forced a miss out of Siakam, but Green was called for a foul on a rebound attempt by Boucher who made both free throws. An open miss from Nnaji turned into a made 3-point shot from Anunoby which stretched the lead to 15 and lead to another Denver timeout. Denver stayed cold from 3-point range with a miss from Campazzo before Powell backed Facu down for an easy bucket.
A miss by Porter was followed by a tip-in from Anunoby before Barton was swatted away at the rim. Barton forced a miss by Anunoby before Jokic ended a Toronto run with an easy layup. Anunoby put the breaks on Millsap and got him faked into the air for an easy bucket before Porter hit a triple. Out of a timeout, Denver gave up another 3-point make before Barton was called for a turnover with his foot on the baseline. VanVleet got an easy layup to fall before putting down a 3-point shot following a miss by Porter.
Denver got a shot to fall following a Toronto turnover, but they gave up an easy bucket to Siakam right away. Denver put down another bucket, but they still trailed by 22 with 2:20 remaining. Jokic had his nose bloodied when he was hit by Barton, but he was able to bury a pair of free throws to bring them within 20 before Powell hit another 3-point shot. Porter hit a triple with one minute remaining. Denver forced a miss from Toronto before Murray got a layup to fall in transition. Porter fouled Powell on a 3-point attempt, and Powell went 2-of-3 at the line before Jokic got a shot to fall in the paint. Anunoby missed a shot with the clock expiring, and Denver was trailing 54-72 entering the half.
The two sides traded empty possessions before Murray hit a difficult 3-point shot. Toronto got a 3-point play to convert before Lowry stretched lead back to 20 with a long jumper. Millsap missed a shot in the paint before hitting a triple following a Raptors’ layup, but Lowry matched him with a 3-pointer of his own. Porter hit a big 3-pointer off an offensive rebound by Millsap as multiple bodies hit the deck, but Anunoby answered back with one of his own.
Jokic got aggressive in the paint and drew a foul on Anunoby and hit a pair of free throws. Denver forced a miss from Anunoby but turned it over before Powell knocked down his third triple of the night. Jokic converted a layup and a steal into a quick four points, and Denver was back within 20 with 7:00 remaining. Porter got the team’s third opportunity to fall at the rim, but they sent O.G. to the line for free throws on the other end where he went 1-of-2.
A Barton turnover turned into a VanVleet triple. A pair of empty possessions was ended by Murray hitting a 3-pointer of his own, but Denver still trailed by 19 with less than 5:00 remaining in the third quarter. VanVleet hit a falling away 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of Barton as the clock was expiring, and Denver was battling just to keep in touch with Toronto with 4:02 remaining down by 20.
Following a Toronto timeout, Millsap was fouled after a VanVleet miss and was sent to the line and made 1-of-2. Empty possessions ended with a 15-footer from Boucher. The two sides traded misses for a few minutes before Porter got another offensive putback to fall. Denver was trailing 81-98 heading into the final period, and they were looking to make a fast and furious comeback over the final period.
Bembry got a shot to fall through a foul, and he was heading to the line for a 3-point play attempt that he converted. Denver was hitting 2s, but Toronto was hitting 3s as they lead 105-84. Out of a timeout, Siakam was fouled and converted both shots. Up by 23, Lowry put away a deep triple, and the game was rapidly fading. Facu hit a 3-point shot of his own. Denver was conceding defeat with the bench entering the game, and they gave up a run of triples to be trailing by 32 points before Malone called another timeout with 6:34 remaining.
The two sides traded buckets before Denver gave up an and-one to Boucher which stretched the lead to 35. Bol Bol put a pair of points on the board, but it was too little too late for the Mile High Team. Denver had won eight of their last 10, but their defensive luck had run out with the explosive performance the Raptors put up from 3-point range. Denver would ultimately fall 111-135.
Points: Nikola Jokic & Jamal Murray – 20
Assists: Murray – 7
Rebounds: Jokic – 10
Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 8-of-14 field goal, 0-of-2 3-point, 4-of-4 free throw