Billups, Nuggets obliterate Raptors
As if a 13-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers wasn't bad enough, the Toronto Raptors took a turn for the worse on their three-game road trip Tuesday night.
Chauncey Billups had 24 points and 14 assists in 31 minutes as the Denver Nuggets trounced the Raptors 132-93 at the Pepsi Center.
"It was just one of those games where it seemed like everything kind of worked," Billups said. "Throughout the season, you usually get two or three of those games.
"Unfortunately, you usually get two or three on the other side. Those games where nothing really works."
The Nuggets dominated from start to finish, leading by as much as 42 points at 130-88 with 90 seconds remaining.
In doing so, they improved to 2-3 since reacquiring Billups in a blockbuster trade with the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 3.
"He is bringing that leadership to this team — helping everybody out, making everybody better," Nuggets shooting guard Carmelo Anthony said. "You look at the scoreboard [and] you see five, six guys in double digits, whereas before we really didn't have that."
Anthony scored 23 points, Nene Hilario poured in 19 points and pulled down a team-best 11 rebounds, and J.R. Smith chipped in 14 points coming off the bench.
Linas Kleiza netted 12 points and Kenyon Martin had 11 points as the Nuggets (13-6) cruised to their ninth win in 11 games.
"You can point to any starter and they all played well," Nuggets head coach George Karl said. "They all had their moments.
Denver's final statistics were staggering: 59.8 per cent shooting from the floor, including 13 of 24 from beyond the arc; a 37-21 advantage in assists; and a 46-39 edge in rebounds.
"I don't know if it was more of them or less of us," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said.
Chris Bosh posted team highs of 24 points and 12 rebounds for the overwhelmed Raptors (8-9), who had a two-game winning streak halted 112-99 at Los Angeles.
Toronto concludes the trek at Utah on Friday night (10:30 p.m. ET).
"I'm just extremely disapointed the way we came out and played this," Mitchell said. "Words just cannot describe how you feel."
"For me, now, it is not a time to be screaming and yelling," he continued. "It is a time to be trying to teach and reassure people.
"At a certain point, when you play, you have got to almost want to fight each other after a game like this. You have got to be demanding of each other."
Rookie Roko Ukic had 13 points in 16 minutes, followed by Jermaine O'Neal with 12 points.
O'Neal spent the past three games on the sidelines nursing a sprained left ankle and a strained left knee.
Joey Graham also reached double digits in scoring, potting 10 points.
"It was a bad day," Raptors point guard Jose Calderon said. "Everything was bad for us."
"We're going to address it as a team tomorrow," O'Neal said. "It is embarrassing not only for us, but for those who support the Toronto Raptors, the organization, the city and the country.
"That should never happen. This is a business.
"We get paid a heck of a lot of money to play a certain way. If we think we can turn it on and off like that, then we are fooling ourselves."
'There was on foolishness in the game'
Toronto looked sharp off the opening tip, albeit briefly, as Bosh fed O'Neal and Anthony Parker for back-to-back jump shots.
But the Raptors got sloppy, committing five turnovers and missing 18 of their next 20 shots to trail by 14 points through one.
Kleisa hit a three-point basket as time expired in the first quarter and Billups opened the second with a trey that put the Nuggets ahead 36-19.
Andrea Bargnani replied with a three-pointer, but the Raptors missed six straight shots before Ukic nailed two free throws and fed Bargnani for a jumper that trimmed it to 40-26 with 8:57 left in the quarter.
Billups tallied the next five points, pumping in a three-pointer and a layup off a steal to make it 45-26.
The Raptors rallied to within 10 points at 53-43, courtesy O'Neal's jumper with 3:26 left to intermisison.
The Nuggets responded with a layup from Anthony and a free throw from Martin, but Bosh's slam dunk trimmed it to 56-45 heading into the final minute.
Nene then hit a layup, a dunk and a free throw, and Billups completed the 8-0 finishing burst with a three-pointer at the buzzer for a commanding 64-45 lead.
"There was no foolishness in the game, even when we had the big lead," Karl said.
Anthony carried the momentum into the second half, scoring Denver's first five points and Martin popped in a free throw that made it 71-49 midway through the third quarter.
The onslaught continued as the Nuggets stormed ahead on 84-53 on Nene's one-handed slam with 5½ minutes left in the third, and he later drove the lane for another one-handed rim rocker that made it 90-57 with 3:26 remaining.
Anthony sliced through the key for a layup that put the Nuggets ahead 100-65 with 29 seconds to go.
Calderon's trey trimmed the deficit to 32 points with 9.5 seconds left, but it only got worse as the Raptors fell behind by as much as 39 points early in the fourth quarter.
And they still had 10½ minutes to play — an eternity in basketball terms.
With files from the Canadian Press