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News » Gasping for air in Mile High City

Gasping for air in Mile High City

Gasping for air in Mile High CityThis is where dinosaurs go to die.

More specifically, this is where Raptors go to die.

It may be some cosmic force at work or perhaps the rarefied Colorado air, or maybe it's just the fact the Denver Nuggets are an extremely good Basketball team, but there is no disputing this has been an unkind place for the Raptors .

Just ask Sam Mitchell.

It's about three weeks short of a calendar year since the Raptors made their last foray to the Mile High City, an occasion that marked one of the team's worst performances in a while, the last game in the Mitchell era and the ascension of Jay Triano to the head coaching role.

That 132-93 loss - and it wasn't as close as the score would indicate - marks the seventh largest points total ever given up by a Toronto team and the fourth-widest margin of defeat.

A year before that, the Raptors were spanked 137-105, the fifth greatest number of points they've ever surrendered, and they haven't won in Denver since December, 2003, when Alvin Williams and Jalen Rose each had 17 points and Donyell Marshall had 13 rebounds in an 81-74 triumph.

The reasons are many, actually.

The Nuggets have simply had more talent than Toronto for the past couple of seasons, Kenyon Martin does an excellent job physically guarding Chris Bosh and the Nuggets have thrived in transition on offence, which doesn't play to any Raptors defensive strength.

And attitude.

"They're so physical and we haven't had that," Triano said Monday after the Raptors practised in Phoenix. "It's a game that scares us a little bit because of that.

"We've kind of gone in there and they've tried to intimidate you with physical play and hope that the officials stop blowing the whistle.

"They're aggressive offensively and defensively and they're a well-coached team. It's tough," Triano added.

If there's a confidence boost for Toronto going into Tuesday's game, it's that they come off one of their best performances, albeit in a 101-100 loss in Phoenix on Sunday.

Triano, whose first practice as a full-time NBA head coach was in Denver on Dec. 3 following Mitchell's dismissal the day before, sees some promising signs.

"We're a finesse team right now," he said. "We're trying to get tougher and we are but it's not happening overnight."

It's still unclear who will be available for the Raptors .

Antoine Wright, who sat out Sunday's game with a sore left ankle, did very little at practice Monday, as did Hedo Turkoglu, who fought through a hip injury to score 20 points against the Suns.

And Reggie Evans, whose toughness certainly would come in handy tonight, remains on the sidelines.

"It'd be nice to have Reggie for a game like that, and Antoine, because I think guys like that would help us," said the coach.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 17, 2009


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