Celtics finish in style, hammer Raptors
BOSTON - It all happened rather suddenly.
The Boston Celtics, who had led by as many as 16 points in the first half, had allowed the undermanned Toronto Raptors to hang around and trail by only four points with 2:49 left. Then, bang!
Jason Terry fired home two 3-pointers in a 13-2 run over the final 2:35 of the quarter and the Celtics went on to a 107-89 victory Saturday.
The run grew to 19-2 as Toronto went the last 5:29 of the third quarter and the first 2:59 of the fourth quarter without a basket, and things got completely out of hand later in the fourth.
Rajon Rondo, who returned to the Boston lineup after missing Thursday night's loss at the Brooklyn Nets, had 20 assists, his 33rd straight game with double-digit assists. He hit the 20 mark in 32 minutes, sitting for most of the fourth quarter.
Terry scored 20 points, his high with his new team, Paul Pierce had 19, Kevin Garnett 15 and rookie Jared Sullinger 12 points and 11 rebounds (both season and career highs) as the Celtics won for the fourth time in the last five games to go to 6-4.
Boston shot 56.6 percent from the floor for the game.
Andre Bargnani and John Lucas led the Raptors (2-7) with 15 points apiece. The Raptors were just 21 for 31 from the foul line.
The general feeling seemed to be that Rondo would miss his second straight game and return against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night. But after working out before the game, he was good to go, and promptly had seven assists and four points in leading his team to a big first-quarter lead.
"He looks fine. He's good," coach Doc Rivers said before the game.
The Celtics assisted on 11 of their 14 first-quarter baskets, then didn't score a field goal for the first 4:20 of the second quarter. Toronto put together a 6-0 run that grew to 9-2 and got the visitors back to within nine.
The lead grew to 16, but a 5-0 Toronto run produced a Celtics timeout with the score 40-31. John Lucas nailed his second 3-pointer of the half to get it down to four. Rondo picked up a questionable 10th assist to stop the Boston bleeding, but another Lucas trey got it down to three.
A vicious Pierce throw-down and foul for a 3-point play restored some order for the Celtics, but the Raptors wouldn't go away and the lead was five at the break.
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Notes: The Raptors are battling an injury siege that includes guard Kyle Lowry, out since Nov. 6 with an ankle bruise. Landry Fields underwent elbow surgery last week and Alan Anderson is out with a foot injury. Lowry was averaging 18.3 points, 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game when he went down. ... Rivers said he was never excited to play day games as a player. "We used to have tons of them," he said. "I never liked them, but we had a lot of them. With an afternoon game, as a player, if you were playing great you loved it that day. But if you were playing poorly, you always felt it was very difficult to pull yourself out of it, because you haven't had your normal mental preparation to get ready for the game."... Guard Avery Bradley, slated to be out another month with double shoulder surgery, was in uniform and active Saturday, but not to play. Backup center Jason Collins was missing because of a family matter and Bradley dressed as the 12th man. ... Saturday was supposed to be a basketball/hockey doubleheader at TD Garden, with the locked-out Boston Bruins originally slated to host the Winnipeg Jets at night. ... The Raptors host the Orlando Magic Sunday, while the Celtics are at the Detroit Pistons. ... Rivers, told Hostess had shut its doors, said, "Twinkies went out of business! That (stinks). I haven't had one in like 30 years now, but I'm sure it's still in my body."