DENVER (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points, Terrence Ross had 18 and the Toronto Raptors ended a decade-long drought in Denver by beating the short-handed Nuggets 100-90 Friday night.
Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry added 13 points apiece for the Raptors, who snapped a nine-game losing streak in the Mile High City dating to 2003.
The Nuggets announced during the game that guard Nate Robinson had season-ending surgery earlier Friday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Robinson was injured in a spill underneath the Nuggets’ basket during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Nuggets also were without leading scorer Ty Lawson, who missed his second consecutive game Friday with a left rotator cuff strain.
J.J. Hickson and Evan Fournier led the Nuggets with 18 points apiece. Hickson also had 13 rebounds. Randy Foye, playing point guard in the absence of Lawson and Robinson, had 10 points and 16 assists. But he also committed eight of the Nuggets’ 26 turnovers, which led to 29 points for Toronto.
Toronto moved to a season high four games above .500 (25-21) and tied a franchise record with its 11th win in January. The Raptors also won 11 games in January 2002.
Leading by seven at halftime, the Raptors put together an 11-2 run late in the third quarter to go up 84-68 with 2:46 left in the period. DeRozan ignited the run by driving through traffic and putting in a reverse layup off the glass and helped keep it going by knocking down a pair of jumpers during the surge.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the Raptors led by 16 points and 50 seconds later, Valanciunas dunked to stretch Toronto’s advantage to 90-70.
After Timofey Mozgov scored on a turnaround jumper for Denver, Toronto reeled off seven straight points, including a 3-pointer by John Salmons for a 97-72 lead with 8:47 left. The Nuggets made a late push with a 14-2 run cutting it to 99-86 on a dunk by Kenneth Faried with 3:32 remaining.
But Ross then blocked Fournier’s driving layup attempt and after Valanciunas made one of two free throws, the Nuggets lost another possession on a turnover by Foye, failing to get the deficit under double digits.
The Raptors turned a steal into a breakaway dunk by Ross for a 60-53 lead at halftime. The rim-rattling jam brought the Raptors’ bench to its feet.
NOTES: Foye had 11 assists in the first half, most by a Nuggets player in a half since Steve Blake had 11 on Feb. 14, 2007. … Toronto won for the first time in Denver since an 81-74 victory on Dec. 30, 2003. … Hickson has had a double-double in 12 of his last 23 games.
By Dennis Georgatos, AP Writer
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