Denver (41-28) at Toronto (35-34)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 41° F
  • Game info: 3:30 pm EDT Sun Mar 23, 2008
  • TV: ALT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A streak like the Toronto Raptors are on would probably remove the Denver Nuggets from playoff contention in the Western Conference.

But while the Raptors are likely safe in their pursuit of a postseason berth, the Nuggets will hope to make up ground in their race when they visit Toronto on Sunday.

Despite dropping six of their last seven games, the Raptors (35-34) are in sixth place in the East, maintaining at least a five-game lead over a number of teams battling for the conference’s final playoff spot. A loss Sunday would drop them to .500 for the first time since early January.

Denver (41-28) has won six more games than Toronto, but trails Golden State by 1 1/2 games for the West’s final postseason berth. The Nuggets still have two more games this season against the Warriors, who visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Denver opened a five-game road trip with losses at Detroit and Philadelphia before beating New Jersey 125-114 on Friday.

“We’ve been struggling,” Nuggets guard Allen Iverson said. “… We just wanted to do anything to get a win.”

Iverson had 21 of his 26 points in the second half against the Nets, adding nine assists one game after a loss in his emotional return to Philadelphia. Linas Kleiza had 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench Friday.

The Nuggets, who scored at least 100 points for the 10th straight game but gave up 100 for the fifth in a row, blew a 17-point lead in the third quarter only to rebound with a 14-1 run in the fourth quarter.

“Welcome to Denver Nuggets land,” coach George Karl said. “We play so fast, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s dangerous.”

The Raptors couldn’t keep up with the Nuggets on March 14 in Denver, as Iverson led six Nuggets in double figures with 28 points in a 137-105 win. But Toronto played that game without leading scorer and rebounder Chris Bosh.

Most of Toronto’s recent struggles have come both on the road and without Bosh, who returned from a 10-game absence due to a knee injury in Wednesday’s 96-54 win over Miami. The team was 2-8 without him.

The Raptors have played only three games in March at Air Canada Centre, where they’ve won six of their last eight, and Bosh appeared at full strength with 24 points in 37 minutes in a 90-83 loss at Cleveland on Friday.

“You have to factor that this was his second game back and he’s only had one practice,” Raptors guard Anthony Parker said. “A lot of it is timing for him. He’s going to be a lot better as the season goes on.”

Toronto shot just 39.5 percent and was outrebounded 51-35 against the Cavaliers, but still led by four points after three quarters.

“As disappointed as I am, it’s hard to be upset, because we did most of the things we wanted to do, we just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.

The Raptors have lost six of seven against the Nuggets, with the only win a 121-94 victory in Toronto exactly one year ago Sunday. Iverson and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 6-of-27 from the field in that game, which Denver played without Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin.

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Sunday, Mar 23