Celts clinch division

Pape Sow of the Raptors gets his arm in the way of a pass by Celtics' Antoine Walker during last...

Pape Sow of the Raptors gets his arm in the way of a pass by Celtics' Antoine Walker during last night's game at the Air Canada Centre. (Toronto Sun/Dave Abel)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

Break out the champagne.

An NBA division championship was awarded last night at the Air Canada Centre, giving Raptors fans a rare opportunity to see a team win something of significance.

Of course, it wasn't the Raptors celebrating. The Boston Celtics (45-35) clinched that oh-so-coveted Atlantic Division title with a 103-98 win over the Raptors before 18,797 fans.

It's Boston's first division title since the 1991-92 season, Larry Bird's last in the NBA.

ALWAYS SAD

"It's always sad to know that a team won and clinched (by beating the Raptors)," point guard Rafer Alston said.

The only thing the Raptors (32-48) have to play for in their final two games is an opportunity to match or better their win total from last season -- 33.

"Ten more (wins) would matter," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Does one, really?"

Before the game, Mitchell made it clear why his team has no hope of participating in the post-season. Without saying the Raptors are selfish, Mitchell indicated just that.

"I know why (the Raptors go through stretches when they do not move the ball well), but I'm not going to say why," Mitchell said. "If you come to the game every night and look and I've got to tell you why, then you need to go watch something else ... There is no delicate way of putting it."

A team-first attitude would help this bunch.

"If you ask everybody in this room who wants to win, everybody's hand will go up," Mitchell said. "If I ask everybody in this room what sacrifices are you going to make to (help the team) win, hands start easing down a little bit."

Meanwhile, Raptors general manager Rob Babcock must have been thrilled to hear first-round pick Rafael Araujo receiving the Vince Carter treatment last night. Whenever Araujo touched the ball, many fans booed. After Araujo missed a wide-open shot, one fan bellowed, "Don't shoot, Araujo." Araujo didn't see the floor in the second half after an 0-for-3, one-point effort in nine minutes.

At least another Raptors rookie, Pape Sow, is showing signs of improvement. He made his second career start and had eight points and seven rebounds.

In the end, however, the Raptors stumbled. Trailing 100-96 late, the Raptors had a shot-clock violation and then passed to Sow behind the basket on consecutive possessions.

When 10-day contract point guard Omar Cook receives 16 minutes and scores no points, it is clear this season can't end soon enough.

DIDN'T GET IT DONE

"We didn't get it done," said Raptors swingman Jalen Rose, who scored a game-high 31 points. "We lost to a team that's better."

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 25 points. Boston, which trailed 50-49 at halftime, outscored the Raptors 33-23 in the third quarter and led the rest of the way.

The Raptors face the Bucks in Milwaukee tomorrow before wrapping up the season Wednesday at the ACC against the Cleveland Cavaliers.


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