Coming into summer league bracket play as the four seed, the Denver Nuggets lost their first round matchup to the Toronto Raptors 85-77.
After going 3-0 in preliminary play, the Nuggets now close out summer league Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. This will be the second time the Nuggets face the Timberwolves in Vegas after beating them last Friday 70-69.
The Nuggets first quarter was the same its been all summer league, let Malik Beasley and Monte Morris do their thing. After sitting out Monday’s game, Beasley was back in the starting lineup and made an instant impact with the first four points for the Nuggets. Morris quickly followed in Beasley’s footsteps scoring the next seven points, drilling an and-1 layup to finish off a personal 7-0 run.
A 9-0 first quarter run gave the Nuggets a 13-4 lead with five minutes remaining in the opening period, but a Raptors run quickly cut into Denver’s lead. The Raptors finished the first on a 15-6 run and tied the game at 19-19 going into the second.
To begin quarter number two, the Nuggets second unit provided a spark as summer league surprise DaVaughn Akoon-Purcell drilled a three to give Denver the lead. Another three, this one by summer league fan favorite Vlatko Cancar, gave the Nuggets a six point lead and forced an early second quarter timeout from the Raptors.
The Raptors bounced back with a 7-2 run of their own forcing the Nuggets to sub both Beasley and Morris back in midway through the second. Two straight Beasley dunks pushed the Nuggets lead back out to four with just over four minutes remaining in the quarter. Beasley’s dunk sparked a personal 6-0 run to give the Nuggets offense life going into halftime.
Beasley’s spark gave the Nuggets a 44-38 lead going into the break with Morris leading the way on offense with 11 points on 5-7 from the field. Beasley wasn’t far behind with 10 points on 5-10 from the field, while also chipping in three rebounds and two steals. OG Anunoby led the way for the Raptors with 14 first half points.
After four straight Raptors points to start the second half, Nuggets rookie Thomas Welsh went on a 5-0 run to stretch the Nuggets lead to seven with 6:20 left in the third. The Nuggets lead would reach double-figures with 5:50 remaining in the quarter as Beasley collected his third steal of the night en route to an easy fast break dunk.
After holding a 53-42 lead, the Raptors cut the deficit to 59-57 closing the third on a 15-6 run.
The Raptors started the fourth on a 8-0 run highlighted by a Chris Boucher block and Giddy Potts three-pointer. Boucher’s block was his sixth of the night and Potts three was his third off the bench. After a Boucher alley-oop dunk, the Nuggets picked up their third technical of the game-this one on Welsh-and the Raptors all of a sudden had a nine point lead with 6:30 left in the fourth. Another trio of three’s courtesy of Boucher, Potts, and Anunoby ignited the Raptors on a 19-3 run, which ended up being the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Nuggets chances.
Even with a late Nuggets run, it was to much too overcome the 28 fourth quarter points from the Raptors. Anunoby led the Raptors offensively finishing as the games leading scorer with 22 points on 9-17 from the field. Potts gave the Raptors a spark off the bench with 14 points going 4-7 from behind the three-point line.
Stat leaders for the Nuggets were Morris, who finished the night with 21 points on 7-12 from the field-3-5 from beyond the arc-and Beasley, who chipped in 19 going 9-23 from the field.
The Nuggets have a day off tomorrow before they close out summer league Friday night against the Timberwolves with tip-off set for 6 p.m MST.