Nene, Anthony lead Nuggets past RaptorsJan 1, 2009 - 4:39 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Toronto Raptors were the latest victims on George Karl's march up the coaching leader boards.
Nene collected 21 points and seven rebounds and Carmelo Anthony chipped in 19 points to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 114-107 win over the Raptors on Wednesday.
Chauncey Billups added 18 points and seven assists as seven players reached double figures in scoring for the Nuggets, who have won three of four.
"Anytime we have balanced scoring, we are a hard team to beat," Anthony said.
The win gave Karl 900, including the playoffs, in his coaching career.
"For me, it's kind of like 'wow,' humbling a little bit," Karl said. "It's fortunate, you have good players, good situation, good coaches. (Assistant) Tim Grgurich, he's been with me for about 600 of them, and I thank him for putting me back together on a lot of nights, supporting me in the game and then saying after the game what the (heck are) you doing. I never thought I would get this far.
"I got the game ball tonight. I'll frame that up."
The Raptors, who went 2-4 on their recent six-game road trip, were playing at the Air Canada Centre for the first time since December 17. The return was no different, as Toronto suffered its fourth straight home loss while allowing over 100 points for the fourth straight game.
Denver ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run to take an 85-77 lead into the final frame. The Raptors closed to within 101-98 on Jose Calderon's 3-pointer with 4:22 to play, but Nene responded with a layup and Billups hit a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets another cushion.
"Yeah, I knew it was a big, big play," Billups said of the 3-pointer. "It wasn't the shot we drew up, but they made an adjustment on the play. They fronted on the play we were running so I called (isolation). I saw them backing up a little and I knew I was going to shoot it."
Anthony added a 17-foot jumper before the game turned into a free throw battle. After Andrea Bargnani hit a pair from the line, Nene responded in kind and Kenyon Martin split a pair to make it 111-100 with 1:24 left.
"Our execution the last two-three minutes of the game was pretty first class," Karl said. "(Anthony) made some good passes. We just got things dome pretty well."
Bargnani was the bright point in the game for Toronto, which has lost three straight. The former No. 1 overall pick collected 26 points, six rebounds and five blocks.
Chris Bosh added 24 points and 11 rebounds but Jermaine O'Neal sat out with a sore right knee for the the Raptors, and his presence was missed on the inside. The Nuggets outscored Toronto in the paint, 50-34.
"I thought we scored the ball fairly well," Toronto interim coach Jay Triano said. "We got a little bit more movement than we have been having. But this team as we know, they can break you down off of the dribble and they did. They got us into the lane and when we tried to help they dished off for easy baskets. We couldn't really keep anyone in front of us."
Denver will attempt to close out its four-game road trip with a winning record at Oklahoma City on Friday.
TORONTO 107 FINAL
Dec 31 9:32 PM
TORONTO 77 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 31 8:51 PM
TORONTO 50 HALFTIME
Dec 31 8:11 PM
TORONTO 31 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 31 7:39 PM
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