NEWS
10/03/2016 19:40 EDT | Updated 10/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Denver Nuggets down Toronto Raptors 108-106 in Calgary pre-season game

CALGARY — The Denver Nuggets opened their pre-season with a 108-106 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

The first NBA game in Calgary in 20 years was played in front of an announced sellout of 19,600 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Raptors dropped to 1-1 in the pre-season after beating the Golden State Warriors in Vancouver on Saturday.

Denver spread scoring out between Jusuf Nurkic (15 points), Danilo Gallinari (14) and Nikola Jokic and Will Barton (12).

The rebuilding Nuggets hope this year's draft picks will boost scoring that was sorely lacking in Denver last season.

Chief among those prospects is Canadian Jamal Murray, the seventh overall pick in June, who saw his first NBA action Monday.

The 19-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., scored nine points in the fourth quarter and played 17 minutes.

Terrence Ross came off Toronto's bench for a team-leading 23 points. Jonas Valanciunas scored 12 of his 20 points for the Raptors in the second half.

Norman Powell's three-pointer with 10 seconds to play pulled the Raptors within two points. Barton missed a pair of free throws with six seconds left, but Toronto couldn't produce another field goal.

Monday's game featured a pair of Canadians, including Raptors guard Cory Joseph now playing for his hometown NBA team.

Murray and Joseph addressed and thanked the Saddledome prior to tip-off. Joseph, 25, was 4-for-9 from the floor in 19 minutes played.

The Vancouver Grizzlies downed the Raptors 80-77 in 1996 in Calgary in the Naismith Cup, which was an annual game between Canada's two NBA teams from 1995 to 2000.

Calgary Flames season-ticket holders had first dibs on tickets for Monday's game and the remainder sold out quickly Sept. 2.

The entrance of Raptors stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry for pre-game warmup had fans leaning over the boards, begging for high-fives and autographs.

Denver is coming off a 33-49 season and missed the Western Conference playoffs for a third straight season. 

The Raptors won a franchise record 56 games in 2015-16 en route to reaching the Eastern Conference final for the first time.

Forward Jared Sullinger sat out Monday with a sore foot. Big man DeMarre Carroll, who led the Raptors with 14 points in Vancouver, was given a night of rest.

Nuggets shooting guard Garry Harris suffered a groin strain in the first half and did not return.

The game featured tributes to NBA great Julius Erving as well as former Raptors Muggsy Bogues and Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams.

As they did in Vancouver, the Raptors linked arms and some bowed their heads for the national anthems. The players have said they are doing so to draw attention to social and racial injustice in the United States.

They face the host Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers and are at home to Argentina champions San Lorenzo de Almagro for three games in three nights starting Wednesday.

Toronto opens the regular season at home versus the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 26.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone has connections to both the Raptors and Canadian basketball.

His father Brendan coached the Raptors in their inaugural year in 1995-96. Michael also served as an assistant coach of the Canadian men's basketball team for three seasons from 2007 to 2009 under Leo Rautins.