1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors’ tight loss against Nuggets

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 12: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the net against Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 12: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the net against Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors may have come into their matchup against the Denver Nuggets having won eight straight games, but they would need a complete team effort to pull out a win in this one. Everyone from OG Anunoby to Khem Birch would need to pitch in.

After a sluggish start in which it looked like Nikola Jokic was going to absolutely destroy an undersized Raptors interior, Toronto was able to bounce back and ride some solid interior scoring to a one-point halftime lead. Jokic looked poised to put up a few crooked numbers in the box score.

Nick Nurse and the squad were given a golden opportunity to come through and pull off a win after Jokic missed two late free throws, but some missed shots at the buzzer helped Denver leave Canada with a 110-109 win and hand Toronto their first loss in their last nine games.

The Raptors didn’t play their best 48 minutes of basketball in this game, as two players accounted for over half of their points and the defense had no answer for Jokic or the Nuggets’ bench. Some players had good games, but their performances were ultimately wasted.

110. 73. 109. 81. Final

Pascal Siakam was once again the leader for the Toronto Raptors.

What more is there to say about the most egregious All-Star Game snub we’ve seen this season? Not only have the Raptors been on a tear, but Siakam is playing his best individual ball since his All-Star season in 2019-20. In some areas, he might be exceeding that gaudy production from a few years ago.

Siakam ended the night with an insane 35 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Going 16-22 from the field with Jokic defending him for large chunks of the game made this one of the most impressive games that the lanky point forward has had all season long.

While Fred VanVleet was getting more Three-Point Contest practice tonight as he bombed away from deep and Scottie Barnes was taking it to the rack aggressively, it was Siakam who had to go mano-a-mano with Jokic and keep Toronto in this game.

On a night where the Raptors didn’t have the best interior defense in the world and Gary Trent Jr. cooled off after his 42-point extravaganza against the Rockets, Siakam was the main reason that Denver didn’t step on the gas in the first half and race out to a big lead. That lack of All-Star recognition looks worse by the day.

Toronto Raptors star OG Anunoby played a disappointing game.

Trent was off for most of the night, but the Raptors have typically been able to overcome some of Gary’s less dominant nights if players like Anunoby can manage to get hot. Instead, OG put up a poor offensive performance that took the shine off of a solid defensive evening.

Anunoby recorded just nine points on 4-16 shooting from the floor and 1-5 from 3-point range. While it exhausts a ton of energy matching up against players like Jokic and Aaron Gordon, OG should still be more efficient than 25% from the field. He had one highlight-reel dunk, but that was about it as far as positives go on offense.

It’s hard for Toronto to win when both Anunoby and Trent have poor nights shooting the ball. Anunoby’s subpar field goal percentage, unfortunately, put him in the spotlight. While he was executing on defense, Toronto needs him to be a better shooter than he was against Denver.

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