Nuggets complete furious comeback, rally to avoid embarrassing home loss

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

The Denver Nuggets played host to the lowly Toronto Raptors on Monday night, a team that entered the game with a lineup full of inactive players. Not only did the Raps come into Denver with just a 23-41 record, but they’d also lost three games in a row.

The team has completely cratered since dealing away Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby to rebuild around younger players like Scottie Barnes. The team has taken even another hit as Barnes was recently injured and is now out indefinitely.

Depleted Raptors

To make matters worse, along with Barnes, the Raptors were without starting center, Jakob Poeltl, starting point guard Immanuel Quickley, and key role players like Chris Boucher, Gary Trent Sr., and others.

So a team that was already bad, was extremely depleted and was playing their fourth game in seven nights in four different cities. Everything was pointing toward a big Nuggets win, yet the result was anything but.

The undermanned Raptors played inspired basketball, dominating the first half - especially the second quarter - and opening up a lead as large as 22 points before the break. The Raptors got great play out of R.J. Barrett, Kelly Olynyk, old friend Bruce Brown, and Michael Porter Jr.’s brother Jontay. Rookie lottery pick Gradey Dick also had one of his better games as a pro with 17 points and 7 assists on 7/12 shooting.

Veteran savvy comeback

Luckily, the Nuggets, who are in the heart of a race for home-court advantage in the Western Conference, were able to rally behind their two stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to erase the deficit and pull out a hard-fought 125-119 victory.

Jokic was incredible in the third quarter, leading the comeback charge. He finished with 35 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. Murray did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, helping close the game out. He added 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 12 assists on the night.

A recurring trend?

It’s the second straight game where the Nuggets have largely no-showed a quarter, as they lost the second to Toronot 34-19. This comes on the heels of Saturday’s game against the Jazz when the Nuggets came out of the locker room and got blitzed to the tune of 44-24 in the third quarter. 

There have been a few concerning moments, but at the end of the day, these are two big wins. The team has now won nine out of ten games since the All-Star break and they’re up to 45-20 on the season, just half a game back of the Thunder for the top seed in the West.