Nuggets rally to defeat RaptorsMar 23, 2008 - 11:58 PM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson scored 36 points and Carmelo Anthony added 33 as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 109-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
The Raptors, who led by as many 17 points in the first quarter, held a 98-96 advantage. But Iverson's two free throws tied the game with 2:36 remaining and triggered a game-ending 15-2 run for Nuggets.
Anthony hit a pair from the line with 1:53 left to put Denver ahead for good at 100-98. Iverson followed with a 3-pointer to make it 103-98.
"We just finally got it together," Iverson said. "We finally got it going on the defensive end and once we got it going on the defensive end, we were able to run. We didn't have to play in the half-court offense."
The Nuggets (42-28), who could become the first team in NBA history to win 50 games and miss the postseason, closed within one game of Golden State in the battle for the final playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference.
"We fought," Anthony said. "That is one thing about us - we are going to fight, regardless of the result. Tonight, we fought through the entire game."
Denver has been on a scoring blitz, surpassing the century mark in 11 straight games. It was coming off Friday's 125-114 win at New Jersey.
However, the Nuggets were nearly blown out in the first quarter Sunday as the Raptors built a 35-18 lead behind Andrea Bargnani, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the opening period.
Denver climbed back into the game in the second quarter, pulling within 54-46 at the half. The Nuggets continued their recovery in the third period, when they again surrendered only 19 points.
Denver coach George Karl pointed to the play of his reserves in the second quarter as the reason that Nuggets were able to climb back in the game.
"We didn't have, of our first unit, focus, energy," he said. "Whatever you want to talk about, we were a step slow. The bench was extremely important."
The fourth quarter was close until the Nuggets' late run. Anthony Parker's 3-pointer gave the Raptors their final lead at 98-96 with took its final lead with 2:38 remaining.
"We didn't make any shots," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "I thought our defense was good enough in spurts and we just didn't score enough at the right time."
"We just wanted it more than they did toward the end," Iverson added.
Toronto lost despite shooting 50 percent from the field (41-of-82) and placing seven players in double figures, led by Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon who scored 17 points apiece. Bosh fell one assist shy of a triple-double, also grabbing 12 rebounds.
"We didn't struggle," Bosh said. "We shot 50 percent. I don't think that's struggling. In the fourth quarter, we just gave up too many points and it's all about defense. We just have to have the will to stop guys."
Jamario Moon contributed 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Raptors (35-35) who have dropped six of their last seven games to fall back to .500 for the first time since they were 17-17 on January 6.
Iverson and Anthony took over the game in the fourth quarter, combining for 22 of the Nuggets' 38 points.
"It's just tough," Mitchell said. "You've got two guys who are fourth and fifth in scoring and they just take turns giving them the basketball."
TORONTO 100 FINAL
Mar 23 6:00 PM
TORONTO 73 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 23 5:20 PM
TORONTO 54 HALFTIME
Mar 23 4:36 PM
TORONTO 35 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 23 4:06 PM
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