TORONTO -- Carmelo Anthony takes great pleasure in knocking the life out of a crowd.
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"I think hitting one on the road, you get that much more joy out of it," said Anthony. "That much more satisfaction. You've got 20 thousand people against you and you can make a shot to silence them? That feels good."
After Anthony missed his first attempt, the loose ball was batted to Nene. He swung it to Chauncey Billups, who fed Anthony inside the arc. Anthony dribbled once and hoisted a jumper that dropped through as the horn sounded.
"Chauncey got the ball, I [saw] [Andrea] Bargnani chasing him out and I just cut to the basket," said Anthony. "It was just one of those shots that went in. [When] I released it, I thought it was long."
Anthony scored 25 points and Nene added 20 for the Nuggets (48-25), who avoided their first four-game losing streak since February 2007. Billups chipped in with 18 points despite going just 4 for 18 from the field.
"It always hurts to lose a close game like that," Bosh said. "We just have to put this behind us and move on to the next game."
Sonny Weems also scored 14 points for the Raptors (35-36), who are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto has dropped two straight entering a pivotal two-game road stretch against Charlotte and Miami, the two teams directly in front of them in the East.
Head coach Jay Triano said it was easy to glean some positives from it.
"We rebounded extremely well," he said. "To outrebound a team by 20, to hold this team to 41 per cent from the field, I thought our defensive schemes were good.
"Their stars made plays. It's tough to swallow, but there's nothing we can do about it."
Down four at the half, the Raptors took advantage of some shoddy Denver shooting -- the Nuggets shot 3 for 21 in the third quarter -- and seized the lead with seven minutes to go in the third. Bosh added consecutive dunks later in the quarter, and Toronto carried an 81-72 lead into the fourth.
"We knew that we were just missing shots," Billups said. "Defensively we were sound all night. If we kept getting stops, kept turning them over like we did, the ball would start going in the basket. We just trusted in that."
Marco Belinelli hit a jumper to extended the lead to 12 before the Nuggets answered with a 9-0 run. Anthony drained an 18-footer to tie it with 1:39 remaining, but Bargnani followed with a running layup and drew a foul, making the free throw to put Toronto back up by three.
Anthony missed a pair of free throws at the other end, but Denver retained possession and Billups hit a 3-pointer with 33.9 seconds left. Bosh drew a foul on Toronto's next possession and converted 1 of 2 free throws to put Toronto up 96-95 with 16.2 seconds remaining, setting up the dramatic finish.
"It just goes to show we're gonna have to give that effort every night, from here until the season is over," said Bosh. "If we do that, we can have a lot of fun playing basketball, and I think we'll be in a better position for success later."
Following a 26-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, the Raptors struggled from the field early on. Toronto made only two of its first 10 shot, and the Nuggets cruised to a 10-4 lead just four minutes in.Notes
- Nuggets G/F Joey Graham made his first appearance in Toronto since leaving the Raptors as a free agent last summer. He was greeted with mild applause when he checked into the game to begin the second quarter.
- Bosh came into the game averaging 16.4 points in 12 career games against Denver, his lowest scoring average against any NBA team.
- Nuggets F Kenyon Martin (knee) sat out his 12th consecutive game.
- The Nuggets entered Friday having won 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Raptors by an average margin of 15.