Jamal Murray scored 24 points, Michael Porter Jr. had 20 and the Denver Nuggets scored the last six points of the match to pull out a 118-113 triumph over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Aaron Gordon added 19 points for the Nuggets, who won their ninth in a row at home. They improved to 24-1 in their last 25 games at Ball Arena. Nikola Jokic finished an assist shy of another triple-double. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was a great win, all business” Murray said. “We move on to the next. We did what we had to do and I think that’s part of the reason we’re so successful; just move on to the next game and take care of business.”
Fred VanVleet had 21 points for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam added 19.
Siakam’s jumper with 2:20 remaining gave the Raptors a six-point edge, but the Nuggets rattled off seven consecutive points to go up 112-111 with 1:15 left.
VanVleet hit a pair of free throws as Toronto regained a one-point lead, but Denver scored the final six points, all on free throws, to secure the win. Murray converted a free throw in that final stretch after Scottie Barnes was called for a technical following a foul by Jakob Poeltl and ejected by referee Scott Foster.
“I was just saying something to myself and I guess he took offence to it, so just kicked me out of the game,” Barnes said. Denver outscored Toronto 35-25 in the final quarter. Foster said Barnes was ejected with just one technical foul for using verbiage which “directly questioned the integrity of the crew.”
“It was another example of our defense stepping up when the game was on the line,” head coach Michael Malone said. “We had timely stops, big baskets, big free throws, winning the challenge [that reversed a foul call on Jokic in the late going] and then winning that jump ball and getting to the free-throw line on a technical. A lot of things went our way at the end. We were down the whole game but we stayed with it.”
The Raptors finished with more second-chance points (20) than the Nuggets (14) and maintained a lead for most of the game. Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said a similar effort on most any other night would produce a win. “We play like that, we’re probably going to be able to beat anybody,” he said. “We probably outplayed them and executed really well and all those things. We just didn’t quite get it done at the very, very end.”