Johnson scores 23 points to help Raptors top Nuggets 117-109

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Stanley Johnson scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half, and the Toronto Raptors closed out their regular season with a 117-109 victory over the slipping Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Johnson hit three 3-pointers and a floating bank shot during a span of less than four minutes in the fourth quarter, helping the Raptors push their lead to 103-92 with six minutes to go. Denver never pulled closer than seven points after that and lost its third straight to fall to 3-5 in its final eight regular-season games that were played in the NBA’s “bubble” in the Orlando area.

Paul Watson scored 22 points and Normal Powell 15 for the Raptors, who’ve won four straight and seven of their eight regular-season games in Central Florida.

Both teams entered the game already locked into playoff position — Denver the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and Toronto No. 2 in the Eastern Conference. Regulars for each club played, but some of their minutes were dialed back. Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each played about 10 minutes, during which Murray hit three 3s for the bulk of his 11 points.

Denver’s PJ Dozier highlighted his team-high 20-point performance by hitting five of six 3-point shots. Monte Morris added 16 for the Nuggets, who trailed for all of the final three periods.

Toronto surged into the lead for good late in the first quarter when Terence Davis made consecutive 3s, the second on a step-back move after he’d sent Paul Millsap soaring past him with an exaggerated up-fake.

Soon after, Chris Boucher’s free throws started a 14-0 run that included 3s by Malcolm Miller and Boucher, followed by Jonhson’s finger roll to give Toronto its largest lead at 39-23.

Denver closed to 54-50 late in the second quarter when Morris hit a cutting layup and a 3 in succession to cap a 9-0 Nuggets run.

Powell’s finger roll and Matt Thomas’ free throws pushed Toronto’s lead back up to 58-50 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Keita Bates-Diop scored 11 points. … Troy Daniels, Mason Plumlee and Millsap each scored 10. … Denver lost to Toronto for the first time in four games. … The Nuggets combined for 16 made 3s on 38 attempts, but shot just 41.4% (36 of 87) overall

Raptors: Combined for 18 3s on 35 attempts, with Johnson and Watson each hitting a team-high four. … Shot 50% (45 of 90) overall. … Thomas had his first start this season and Davis his fourth. … Boucher finished with nine points and nine rebounds in less than 22 minutes.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Open their first-round playoff series against Utah on Monday.

Raptors: Begin their first-round playoff series against Brooklyn on Monday.

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