DENVER - They had a sloppy start and a lackadaisical finish. But the Denver Nuggets played well enough in between on Monday to defeat the Toronto Raptors, 107-101, in front of 14,826 at the Pepsi Center. And in winning their sixth straight game, they avoided a let-down on a night that seemed earmarked for one. A day earlier, the Nuggets claimed perhaps their best victory of the season – an 89-85 triumph over their nemesis, the NBA champion Spurs. The Raptors were smarting from a loss to the L.A. Lakers on Sunday in which Kobe Bryant torched them for 81 points. Denver took care of business to win for the 10th time in 12 games. “I thought it was a pretty mentally tough game and mentally tough win,” Denver coach George Karl said. Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 37 points — he made 13 of his 16 shots. “Players just don’t do that in this league anymore, and he does,” Karl said of Anthony’s field-goal percentage. “I just think it shows that if he makes the jump shot, he’s very difficult – if not impossible – to cover.” The Nuggets’ got another strong performance by Kenyon Martin, who scored 25 points with 12 rebounds. Martin played a season-high 40 minutes and seemed to be getting closer to 100 percent healthy after struggling with tendinitis in his surgically repaired left knee. “The things you’ve got to be excited about in the last two or three weeks is Kenyon’s improvement and consistency and confidence,” Karl said. Anthony and Martin combined for 62 of Denver’s 107 points and looked much like one of the top forward duos in the league — something Martin thought the pair would become when he came to the Nuggets. “I haven’t held up my end,” Martin said. “But I think I’m starting to.” Toronto led, 54-52, at halftime, but Anthony had nine points on a 19-6 Nuggets run that gave them a 71-60 lead. The Raptors cut the lead to four but could get no closer. Denver has 10 victories in January – Karl’s standard for a great month. But the coach expects to win a few more. “I’d be disappointed if we didn’t,” he said. “But you’ve got to tip the hats off to these guys to do this without (injured) Marcus (Camby) and without some other players early in the month.” NEXT Denver (24-19) at Portland (14-25), 8 p.m. Wednesday, Altitude, 1300/950 AM
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