Toronto Looks to Take Advantage of Martin-Less Nuggets in Denver

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The Denver Nuggets were forced to play parts of last year without Kenyon Martin. With Martin out for the rest of this season, the Nuggets are going to find out again just how difficult missing the power forward will be.

Denver hosts the Toronto Raptors on Saturday in its first home game without its power forward.

Oddsmakers have made Denver -10 point spread (NBA Odds) favorites for tonights game, the over/under has been set at

216 total points (View NBA Sports Books).

Martin underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Wednesday that revealed significantly more damage than expected.

He missed 26 games last season because of left knee surgery, the same knee he had microfracture surgery on 18 months ago.

Martin originally said he hoped to miss one or two months, but now is done until 2007-08. Eduardo Najera has been starting in his place, and Denver (3-4) also has Joe Smith and Nene as capable reserves off the bench.

The Nuggets - who went 19-7 without Martin in 2005-06 - are hoping those three players can replace his energy and defense. Martin had 20 rebounds in the first two games of the season.

``I saw him gaining confidence in himself and his knee,'' Denver forward Carmelo Anthony said. ``Just to hear something like that and hear we are not going to miss him is wrong. We are going to miss him. I don't care what anybody says. He is a big part of our team. That is something we are going to have to adjust to.

``He brings a lot of toughness and energy to our team. We are going to miss that.''

After learning of Martin's injury, the Nuggets lost 108-99 at Orlando on Wednesday and squandering a chance for a perfect four-game road trip.

The Nuggets - 0-2 at home this season - play eight of their next 10 at the Pepsi Center, games they can use to form a solid forward rotation.

``We can't dwell on it too long because we have another game coming up,'' guard J.R. Smith said. ``We just have to depend on the rest of our team.''

Toronto (2-6) will hope to take advantage of the short-handed Nuggets. The Raptors have lost four straight games, including the first three of a five-game road trip.

Toronto fell to 0-4 on the road with a 107-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson each had 20 points for the Raptors, and Bosh added 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year.

He was coming off a 23-point, 22-rebound performance in a 110-99 loss to Golden State on Tuesday.

The Raptors, who finish their trip on Monday at Utah, are in the middle of a stretch of 13 out of 17 games on the road.

They've lost 10 straight away from Toronto dating to last season.

``We've got to start the game with intensity and confidence,'' Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said after Friday's loss. ``We played tough in the second half, took the lead and made some silly fouls. You got to make some shots. We had some careless turnovers.''

Denver has won the last four meetings with Toronto.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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