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Gay drains winning basket as Raptors stun Nuggets

Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson (R) moves around Denver Nuggets Kenneth Faried during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto F
Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson (R) moves around Denver Nuggets Kenneth Faried during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto F

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rudy Gay drained the game-winning shot in the final seconds as the rejuvenated Toronto Raptors withstood a furious fightback from the Denver Nuggets for a 109-108 victory over one of the NBA's hottest teams on Tuesday.

Trailing by a point with five seconds remaining, Toronto's newest acquisition drained the go-ahead jump shot just before Ty Lawson's attempt to give the visitors the win bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.

"He is a big-time player. He is a closer. His roll card has 'closer' all across the front of it," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey told reporters when asked about Gay's game-winning shot.

"He has done it at high levels like in the playoffs ... I have seen him do it so many times. That is what he does."

With the win, the Raptors (20-32) moved to within six games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but, perhaps more importantly for fans of the long struggling team, improved to 4-2 since acquiring Gay last month.

Gay, who also had the game-winner last Friday in Indiana, entered the game averaging 23.4 points for the Raptors after scoring 17.2 per game with the Memphis Grizzlies this season.

He got off to a fast start against the Nuggets, scoring 13 points in the first quarter as Toronto built their biggest lead of the game. But the 26-yeard-old forward got into foul trouble and had to watch from the bench until late in the game.

"Oh man, my hands were sweating and I couldn't stop moving my legs, I was itching to get out there," said Gay, who finished with 17 points. "Obviously it's not a game I am proud of but I am proud to get this win with the team."

DeMar DeRozan had a team-high 22 points for the Raptors, who take a three-game winning streak to New York for a game against the Knicks on Wednesday.

For Denver (33-20), playing in their first game since the team's longest winning streak in nearly eight years ended in Sunday's triple-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, the loss was their fourth in 19 games.

Lawson paced the Nuggets with a game-high 29 points.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)