TORONTO • The Toronto Raptors wrapped up their three-game homestand with a 105-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
The Raptors survived a defensive lapse in the third quarter to close out the National Basketball Association league win at the Air Canada Centre.
Denver outscored Toronto 9-4 through the first four minutes of the second half, cutting the Raptors' lead to six. Then, with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter, Wilson Chandler got a finger-roll lay-up to drop, pulling the Nuggets within 77-73.
After Jameer Nelson dropped a three-pointer with five seconds to go in the third quarter, pulling the Nuggets within two points, DeMar DeRozan hit a buzzer-beating two to give the Raptors an 88-84 lead.
In addition to outscoring the Raptors 35-26 in the third quarter, the Nuggets dominated the boards, 13-7, as they rallied from a 49-62 deficit.
"It got away on the defensive end. We gave up 35 points in the third quarter," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "What saved us is getting into the paint. We had 58 points in the paint. It's a hard way to live, because if you don't get defence, again, it forces you to put the pressure on the paint."
Points in the paint for Toronto.These accounted for 55 per cent of their points (105) and were a factor in the Raptors' win over Denver.
The Nuggets took their first lead of the second half with 8min 49sec left in the fourth quarter as Chandler hit a 25-foot three-pointer that made it 91-90 and capped a 5-0 run.
"It's the second game in a row where we waited until the second half to show up," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "When you play against a team that was in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, you can't do that. I'm very proud of our effort.
"We outscored them by 10 in the second half, gave ourselves a chance to win, took the lead, but you can't spot that team the (first) half that we did."
DeRozan led the Raptors with 33 points and five rebounds. Toronto improved to 2-1 following a win over the Detroit Pistons and a loss against reigning champions the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kyle Lowry's lay-up with 45.3 seconds remaining put the game out of reach. He finished with 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
DeRozan became the first player in franchise history to start a season with three consecutive 30-point games. Kobe Bryant is the last player to begin with three consecutive 30-point games without a three-pointer, achieving the feat in 2005.
"I may text Kobe or something," DeRozan joked. "I don't get caught up in what nobody says. I just try to get the job done. As long as we go out there and win, that's all I care about."
Denver (1-2) were led by 16 points, six rebounds and four assists from guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton each added 16 points.