Nikola Jokić and Mike Malone bash the Nuggets after a loss to the Raptors

Nikola Jokić and Mike Malone bash the Nuggets after a loss to the Raptors

The looming trade deadline is a distraction, no doubt about it. But it can’t be an excuse. Well, for the Nuggets, it seemed like that’s exactly what it was.

That was an embarrassing performance.

Mike Malone

Denver lost to the Raptors 135-111 in what was one of their worst performances of the regular season thus far. And Nikola Jokić – who finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists – wasn’t happy about it. Especially when asked whether he thought any of his teammates were distracted with the trade deadline during the game.

I don’t know. If they are, they are not professionals. First, you represent yourself; then, you represent your team.

Nikola Jokic

Mike Malone, the Nuggets head coach, also shared his frustrations with how his guys responded in yesterday’s loss, refusing to allow the players to use the annual NBA trade deadline uncertainty as a scapegoat.

They got guys in their locker room that have trade deadline anxiety as well. Guess what? They went out there and balled tonight.

Mike Malone

The Raptors broke their 9-game losing streak after winning their first game since February 26. Toronto built a 24-point lead in the first half and haven’t looked back since. They finished the game shooting 24-for-48 from deep.

Pascal Siakam led the team with 27 points. OG Anunoby had 23, and Norman Powell added 22. Kyle Lowry, who might’ve played his last game with the Raptors, had 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists, finishing the contest as a +42 — the highest mark of his career. Jamal Murray had 20 for the Nuggets. Michael Porter Jr. added 19, and Paul Millsap put up 11.