NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 31st (All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (24-21) at Denver Nuggets (22-22), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors take a two-game winning streak into their western road trip, starting Friday night at the Pepsi Center against the Denver Nuggets.
The Raptors topped their fiercest competition in the Atlantic Division, the Brooklyn Nets, then knocked off the Orlando Magic at home on Wednesday before departing west.
After Friday's bout with the Nuggets, the Raps will visit the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers. They return to Toronto for two before the All-Star break.
The Raptors will have their first representative in the All-Star game since Chris Bosh in 2010. DeMar DeRozan was selected as a reserve for the game in New Orleans.
"It means a lot," acknowledged DeRozan, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury. "I continue to work hard. I wouldn't be here without my teammates. They helped me get here."
DeRozan is listed as probable for the Denver game.
Against the Magic, Kyle Lowry, who missed out on a spot on the East All-Star squad, scored 30 of his 33 points in the first and third quarters and the Raptors led wire-to-wire in a 98-83 win.
Amir Johnson added 22 points and 11 rebounds and Jonas Valanciunas scored 14 with 15 boards for the Raptors, who have won four of five.
The Nuggets continue to be an enigma. After a three-game losing streak, Denver won two in a row, but laid an egg Wednesday night when it kicked off a four- game homestand with a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Al Jefferson pummeled the Nuggets with 35 points and 11 rebounds in the 101-98 loss.
Randy Foye scored 33 points, Evan Fournier had 19 to go with six assists and Timofey Mozgov added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Nuggets.
Denver guard Ty Lawson missed the game with a strained left rotator cuff that he suffered in Sunday's win over Sacramento. Lawson's replacement, Nate Robinson, was injured in the first quarter after a fall under the basket. He limped off the court and did not return.
Lawson is a game-time decision, while Robinson suffered a sprained anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Robinson has been ruled out of Friday's game, but there's no timetable as he awaits further evaluation.
If Lawson can't go Friday, Foye will assume the point-guard duties. If Lawson is out long-term, that might signal the return of veteran Andre Miller, who has been away from the team since Jan. 2 for personal reasons. (Miller and head coach Brian Shaw got into a heated exchange on the court.)
"I've always said that I can coach any player that is willing to play and do what's best for the team overall," Shaw said. "If he's willing to do what's best for the team overall, I'm willing to coach him. I've said that before; I'm saying it again."
The Nuggets defeated the Raptors in Toronto on Dec. 1 and have won 16 of the last 19 meetings. Denver has taken nine straight over the Raps at the Pepsi Center.
01/31 11:50:24 ET