7:00 PM ET, December 31, 2008
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
Nuggets spread scoring load with seven in double figures against Raptors
TORONTO -- Clutching two paper cups of cola, Denver coach George Karl planned to celebrate New Year's Eve, and his 900th career victory, with something stronger but not bubblier.
"I'm not a champagne guy," Karl said. "I'm a beer guy and some red wine, but I think it's Coors Light tonight. Beer after a win tastes like champagne."
Billups said the Nuggets gave Karl a postgame ovation.
"That's an amazing feat, Billups said. "I can't imagine. That's a lot of basketball. You reach a milestone like that, you've got to be doing something good."
Anthony was less than 6 months old when Karl, who is 10th on the career wins list, earn his first victory as Cleveland's coach in 1984.
"I don't remember it," Anthony joked. "I didn't see the highlights. They might show them tonight."
Karl, who sauntered out of the locker room with a can of beer in his hand, planned to keep a game ball as a memento of the win.
"I never thought I'd get this far," Karl said. "I thought I'd probably coach a few years of pro ball and wear out my welcome, and go coach in college and wear out my welcome, and go coach in high school and wear out my welcome, and end up in junior college or junior high somewhere."
Karl started 2-19 that season, then finished 34-27 to make the playoffs.
"My favorite story is, after we clinched the playoffs, Lonnie Shelton and World B. Free picked me up and put me on their shoulders and carried me off the court. I'd never seen a pro coach put on their shoulders. It was a pretty incredible ride."
With Toronto's playoff hopes fading, Bosh hoped for greater success in 2009.
"I wish we could wipe the slate clean to be honest with you," Bosh said. "I wish we could start over. We definitely have a challenge ahead of us."
Toronto coach Jay Triano had a short, sharp message for his team in a third-quarter timeout, then returned to the bench and left the players in a heated discussion for the remainder of the stoppage.
"I was just checking on coverage and I cleared it up," Triano said. "I only had one message. We had messed up on a couple of coverages so I didn't need 20 seconds, I only needed two seconds. Our timeout was just to clear up coverages and I got my point across and that was it."
Denver led 85-77 after three quarters, but a three-point play by Bargnani and a dunk by Joey Graham cut it to 90-88 with 8:59 left, forcing the Nuggets to call timeout. Kleiza scored Denver's next seven points on a 3-pointer and four free throws, to give the Nuggets a seven-point edge.
"He came through and hit a couple of big shots," Anthony said. "It was another little spark that we need off the bench."
Calderon's 3-pointer cut it to 101-98 with 4:23 remaining, but a layup by Nene, a 3-pointer by Billups and a jumper by Anthony ended Toronto's hopes.
"He likes to make that shot and our execution in the last two or three minutes of the game was first class," Karl said.
Anthony shot just 4-for-17 in Monday's 109-91 loss to Atlanta after missing three of the previous four games with a sore elbow. While admitting his elbow was still sore, Anthony fared better against Toronto, shooting 8-for-20.
Nene returned to Denver's starting lineup after missing his first game of the season Monday because of a stiff neck caused by a fall in Sunday's win at New York.
The Nuggets held a 30-minute team meeting Tuesday to discuss their frustrations after Monday's defeat.
"It was helpful," Billups said. "When you don't have a lot of practice time, you've got to use those situations to get better. Even though you're not physically our on the court, you get an understanding with guys, you get to hold people accountable in those meetings and talk about what's going on, right or wrong. It was a good meeting."
The Raptors played at home for the first time since being booed in a 96-86 loss to Dallas on Dec. 17. Toronto lost four of six games on a 12-day, West Coast road trip that ended with Monday's loss at Golden State.
Calderon made both his free throws, extending his streak to 75 straight dating to last season.
The game was more competitive than the teams' other meeting this season. Toronto fired coach Sam Mitchell the day after a 39-point loss at Denver on Dec. 2, the fifth-worst loss in Raptors franchise history and tied for the fifth-largest win in Nuggets history.
Anthony got a technical foul for arguing a non-call in the second, and Billups got one for slamming the ball after an out-of-bounds call in the fourth. ... Toronto has lost four straight home games for the first time since a five-game skid from March 29 to Apr. 9, 2006. The Raptors are 5-9 at home this season. ... Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke attended the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||42-82 (.512)||38-81 (.469)|
|3PM-3PA||8-18 (.444)||10-24 (.417)|
|FTM-FTA||22-28 (.786)||21-24 (.875)|
|Fast Break Points||10||23|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (2/0)||22 (1/0)|