The Denver Nuggets' explosive offense was slowed just enough to bring their winning streak to an end their last time out.
If recent history is any indication, a matchup with the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night may be just what the visiting Nuggets need to return to their high-scoring - and winning - ways.
Denver has taken 15 of 17 from Toronto after a 113-110 victory in the most recent matchup Dec. 3, averaging 114.6 points in the wins. The Nuggets have scored at least 123 five times in that span.
Denver (33-19) averaged 114.6 points during a nine-game win streak before falling 118-114 in triple overtime at Boston on Sunday. The teams were tied at 92 after 48 minutes - Denver's lowest total in regulation since a 92-78 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 1.
Andre Miller missed a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining in the final overtime that would have put Denver ahead by one, instead snapping the club's longest winning streak in nearly eight years.
The Nuggets are 15-3 in their last 18, averaging 111.6 points in that span.
"Very few times when you lose do you think it's probably a good thing, and I thought we played as well as we can play with the circumstances," coach George Karl said. "We played with a lot of heart, a lot of guts, we took a lot of punches and fought back every time."
Danilo Gallinari shot 49.2 percent and 45.3 from 3-point range during the win streak, but he went 7 of 20 and had 18 points against the Celtics. Ty Lawson scored a game-high 29 for the Nuggets and has averaged 20.0 in his past 11 games.
"Hard to believe these guys don't have an All-Star," Boston forward Kevin Garnett said. "That baffles me ... Gallinari, Lawson ... they have deserving guys."
Rudy Gay has certainly played like an All-Star since joining the Raptors (19-32), who are 3-2 since acquiring him. He's averaging 23.4 points for his new team after scoring 17.2 per game with the Grizzlies this season.
Gay scored 20 in Toronto's 102-89 win over New Orleans on Sunday, while John Lucas had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors outscored the Hornets 33-23 in that period. Lucas, who matched his season high, was 4 of 6 from the field in the final 12 minutes.
Lucas has scored 17 or more in three of his last six after reaching double digits three times in his first 31 games.
"He did a great job on (the offensive) end, so I thought the second unit came in, gave us that spark that we needed," said coach Dwane Casey, whose team blew an 11-point second-quarter lead.
"We got to get that in the first part of the game and not give up a lead that the first unit did a great job of building."
Andrea Bargnani, who totaled 27 points in his first two games after missing 26 in a row with an injured right elbow, sat out Sunday because of flu-like symptoms. Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and 10 rebounds after a broken finger sidelined him for the previous 18 contests.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 24 points in the first matchup with the Nuggets, while Corey Brewer scored 19 off the bench for Denver.
The Associated Press News Service
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