TORONTO -- Forward Rudy Gay hit the winning shot with 4.8 seconds left in the game and scored 17 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Denver Nuggets 109-108 on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
It was only the third time in the past 18 meetings between the teams that the Raptors (20-32) have defeated the Nuggets (33-20).
Gay failed to score at least 20 points for the first time in his first six games with Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 22 points and John Lucas came off the bench to score 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Kyle Lowry added 11 points and 10 assists and Alan Anderson scored 10.
Denver guard Ty Lawson led all scorers with 29 points and had nine assists but missed a chance to win the game in the final seconds.
Anthony Randolph scored 16 after coming off the bench. Kenneth Faried had 15 with 11 rebounds and Andre Miller had 12 in a reserve role.
The Nuggets played without guard Andre Iguodala and forwards Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.
Lucas hit three 3-point shots early in the fourth quarter to put the Raptors into an eight-point lead that Denver quickly reduced to two. But Lowry, Lucas and Anderson hit 3-pointers to hold off the Nuggets and the lead was 100-96 with 4:50 to play. But the Nuggets tied it again, 102-102, on Corey Brewers' reverse layup with 3:02 remaining. But Anderson hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put Toronto back in front.
The lead was one after Lawson made a layup. Randolph made both free throws after Amir Johnson's fifth foul to put Denver in the lead by one with 42.6 seconds left. The Raptors had the ball with 20.6 seconds left after Anderson nabbed the rebound after a missed shot. Gay came through with a pull-up jumper with 4.8 seconds left for a one-point Toronto lead. The Nuggets had one more chance but Lawson missed his driving shot.
The Raptors held on to their two-point half-time margin until 7:25 to play in the third when Lawson put in a layup after Lowry's turnover to tie the game 63-63. Another Raptor turnover by Jonas Valanciunas led to a dunk by Faried and a 65-63 lead for Denver. The Raptors came back twice to take four-point leads only to have the Nuggets tie before John Lucas and DeRozan gave Toronto an 82-78 lead after three quarters.
Terrence Ross who was on the bench as Toronto took a seven-point lead out of the first quarter took advantage of his chance when he was put into the game in the second, He hit a 3-pointer and after Corey Brewer's turnover came back with a running dunk to put Toronto into a 12-point lead with 6:28 to play in the half. But when Lawson hit three of three free throws the lead was cut to four. After Toronto bumped their lead to six, Lawson made two successive layups to make the score 54-52 for the Raptors at the half. Lawson led all scorers at the half with 17.
The Raptors led by as many as 13 points in the early going but the Nuggets trimmed that to 28-21 by the end of first quarter. Gay had 13 points in the opening quarter.
NOTES: Guard Andre Iguodala (right cervical strain), forward Danilo Gallinari (sinus infection) and forward Wilson Chandler (left groin tightness) were are out of the Nuggets lineup for Tuesday's game. ... Raptors forward/center Andrea Bargnani was ready to play Tuesday after missing Sunday's win over the New Orleans Hornets because of the flu. He did not practice on Monday. ... Forward Linas Kleiza (right knee), who played 301 games with the Nuggets (2005-2009), remains out for the Raptors. ... Raptors coach Dwane Casey was an assistant at Seattle to Nuggets coach George Karl. ... The Nuggets came to Toronto having won nine of 10 games with the only loss coming in triple overtime to the Celtics in Boston on Sunday. ... Casey believes the best way to develop the team is to have the players earn their playing time. "You go on productivity rather than saying this guy's got to play so many minutes," he said before the game. ... The Raptors visit the New York Knicks on Wednesday while the Nuggets visit the Brooklyn Nets.