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Raptors end preseason with loss to Nuggets in Edmonton

The Canadian Press
10/22/2008 3:04:00 AM
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EDMONTON - It was an ugly end to a forgettable pre-season.

The Toronto Raptors turned the ball over 20 times and shot just 46 per cent from the field Tuesday to lose its final NBA pre-season game 105-94 to the Denver Nuggets before 17,534 fans at Rexall Place.

"It is what it is. We've got to work on things," said Toronto forward Chris Bosh, who shot 5-for-8 from the field for 17 points.

"Turnovers are one of the things we have to work on. That's very uncharacteristic of us."

Bosh also had three rebounds in 29:46. He and point guard Jose Calderon (5-for-11, five rebounds and seven assists) were the only highlights for the Raptors, who trailed 24-17 after the first quarter and never seriously challenged the rest of the way.

Toronto finished the pre-season at 4-4 and opens the regular season Oct. 29 in Philadelphia against the 76ers.

"For whatever reason we're not shooting the ball very well," said Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell.

"Our defence is not that great, but it's not that bad.  We're just not making the shots."

Denver forward Carmelo Anthony shot 5-for-9 from the field for 15 points with six rebounds in 28 minutes of play.

It was the first NBA contest in the Alberta capital since 1999, when the Raptors defeated the then-Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies 110-84.

The Raptors struggled without centre Jermaine O'Neal. The six-time all-star got into foul trouble early and played just 13:25 before sitting out the second half with tightness in his back.

He said he'll be ready when the team hits the practice floor Friday.

"It (the back problem) caused a little tightness in my leg," O'Neal said. "It's more of a maintenance thing."

The 12-year veteran, acquired from the Indiana Pacers in an off-season trade, finished 1-for-2, with one rebound and one blocked shot. He missed half of last season with a knee injury.

The Nuggets, playing without starting point guard Anthony Carter (given the night off) and guard Allen Iverson (right ankle sprain) took advantage of O'Neal's absence to shred the heart of the Raptors' second-team defence.

They led 58-47 at halftime and 80-71 after the third quarter. When the traffic got heavy inside, they kicked the ball outside for five three-point field goals, including four by guard J.R. Smith.

Denver wraps up the pre-season with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in California Friday.

Toronto forward Jamario Moon continued his lacklustre pre-season play. Coming off an 0-8 performance against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, he shot 0-4 against the Nuggets.

"I feel like I've had one of the worst pre-seasons that anyone could have, but that's why they call it pre-season," said Moon.

"I was just working on what coach wanted me to work on, drive to the basket.

"But I've got to step up now. The season's ready to start."

FOUL SHOTS: Will Solomon, fighting Roko Ukic for the backup point guard job behind Calderon, injured a leg muscle against the Lakers and was held out of the lineup Tuesday.

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