Raptors-Nuggets will be remembered for calls

The final minute changed everything.

That’s what Scottie Barnes tweeted after receiving his first career ejection in a pivotal moment that sealed this game against the Nuggets. The Raptors fail for a third time to get back to .500, something that hasn’t been reached since December 9th. This loss is especially heartbreaking because the Raptors led for over 44 of 48 minutes. Toronto was threatening to hand Denver only its fifth home loss of the entire season.

Let’s touch on what was working before we get to the eventual disaster

Fred and O.G.

Starting with Fred VanVleet, he initiated offence beautifully all game. The Raptors only had a single three point attempt in the first eight minutes (one that VanVleet made). Driving lanes were available and the Raps were getting to the line.

FVV’s chemistry with Jakob Poeltl rolling continues to display on a regular basis. Fred finished with 14 assists, one from tying his season high. VanVleet also added 21 points, testing his range on a deep three against the shot clock.

As usual, O.G. Anunoby had the toughest defensive assignment. Nick Nurse marveled after the game about Anunoby’s defensive versatility – he’s guarded wings in DeMar DeRozan and Bradley Beal, followed by a seven footer in Jokic within the past week.

Joker almost recorded another triple-double (17 pts, 13 reb, 9 ast) but was limited to eight shot attempts. Scottie mentioned postgame that it was a priority to take the easy passes away from Jokic such as back cuts. O.G. also didn’t allow Jokic to bring up the ball as he tends to do at times to initiate quick offence. The outlet passes Jokic likes to throw immediately after securing a defensive rebound weren’t there either.

Now, the catasrophe.

A One Minute Disaster

The Raptors led 113-112 in the final minute until three calls decided this game.

1 – Jokic sets a screen on Barnes for Jamal Murray. Scottie and Joker’s arms get tangled for a second but had already disengaged as Murray drove before the call was made. Nurse challenged and was unsuccessful, using the Raptors last timeout in the process. Jokic made both free throws to put Denver up one.

2 – Barnes appeared to get hit on the arm by Jokic as he drove just five seconds later. However Michael Malone successfully challenged that call. Instead of Scottie free throws to potentially put the Raptors back in front, Jokic won an ensuing jump ball vs Poeltl and Denver headed back the other way

3 – Aaron Gordon draws an extremely suspect foul vs Poeltl. Barnes couldn’t believe it. The rest went viral.

It’s safe to say at least one of the other refs had no idea why Scott Foster blew the whistle.


Wob broke down all the angles behind Scottie’s first career ejection. Barnes had a few issues with the refs earlier in the game but didn’t have a technical foul until this point. It was simply an automatic ejection. Here’s a better look at Foster’s explanation on both #2 and 3 of this sequence.

Murray made the tech and Gordon added two more free throws to make this a two possession contest all of a sudden. Anunoby missed a desperation three on the Raptors next possession.

Game over.

Other Takeaways

The Raptors would have jumped Atlanta for eighth in the East had they found a way to hold on. Here is Fred talking about the flow of the game changing in the final minute, and Nurse saying that his team outplayed the top seed in the West (albeit with little to play for in the conference).

Up Next: The L.A. tour begins on Wednesday, with the Clippers first up. They are 1-5 since acquiring Russell Westbrook, recently snapping a five game skid. Hello Kawhi Leonard.