The Raptors scored only one point over the final 7:44, but still managed to win their third in a row. It was the opener of Toronto's five-game western trip that lasts through Feb. 7.
DeRozan had missed two games with an ankle injury and during that time he was announced as one of the reserves for the All-Star Game. It will be his first appearance in the contest.
He scored 40 points against Dallas and 34 against Philadelphia before suffering the injury against the Los Angeles Clippers last Saturday.
DeRozan made just 6-of-17 from the field, but hit 7-of-8 from the foul line. Terrence Ross pitched in 18 points and both Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas contributed 13.
Toronto took a 99-75 lead with 7:44 to go on a basket by John Salmons and then managed only one point the rest of the way.
JJ Hickson and Evan Fournier had 18 points each for the Nuggets, who have lost two straight.