Simply embarrassing

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

BOSTON -- By the second quarter yesterday, Maceo Baston was guarding 10-time NBA all-star Kevin Garnett.

Strategic coaching by Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell?

Perhaps. Or perhaps Mitchell already was counting his losses. Even with 21/2 quarters to go, last night's contest at the TD Banknorth Garden was all but over, so the Raptors coach may have been prudent to dispatch the likes of the little-used Baston and Juan Dixon on to the court and give starters Rasho Nesterovic and T.J. Ford a rest with the Houston Rockets arriving at the Air Canada Centre tomorrow.

There was little else Mitchell could hang his hat on as the Eastern Conference powerhouse Boston Celtics ran roughshod over his injury-depleted Raptors 112-84.

"It was one of those nights," Ford said. "I don't know what to say. I really don't have an answer for it."

Problem No. 1 for the Raptors was their inability to contain the Celtics' big three -- Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, particularly Garnett, who left the game with 3:46 to go in the third quarter with 23 points, six rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes, much to the appreciation of the Garden crowd which gave him a standing ovation. Pierce also received a loud ovation when he left with 37 seconds left in the third quarter, having scored 18 points, with five rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes. Allen finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Raptors were out-rebounded (44-32), shot only 43% to Boston's 53% and picked up 25 fouls, resulting in the Celtics going to the free-throw line 30 times. Boston led by as much as 39.

The Raptors again were without forward Chris Bosh (strained groin) and Andrea Bargnani (hyper-extended left knee), which put them squarely behind the 8-ball. Mitchell rarely uses injuries as an excuse, but he was bemoaning the loss of his two standout big men after last night's massacre.

"I just look forward to the day when we can get healthy and we can get our guys in shape and then, we'll see what kind of basketball team we have," he said. "(Until then) we just have to hang in there. (But) it's hard to judge where we are right now because even when Chris and Andrea come back, how much time is it going to take them to get back (into game shape)?"

If there was some positive news for Toronto it was Ford, the club's No.1 point guard, who was able to start for the first time in eight games after suffering an arm stinger on Nov. 20 in Dallas. He scored 12 points in 22 minutes with three assists. The Raptors starters scored a combined 41 points.

Jamario Moon blocked a Pierce shot early in the first quarter to run his blocked shot game streak to 12 straight, the longest by a Raptor since April, 2005, when Bosh posted a 14-game run. On the other hand, Moon scored just two points in 34 plus minutes.

The Raptors trailed 62-40 at the half, the largest halftime deficit for the Raptors this season. And it didn't help matters that the Celtics started the second half by going on a 8-0 run.

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

Kendrick Perkins blocked a Joey Graham shot early in the first quarter which resulted in a Boston Celtics possession, a 6-2 run and a 23-14 Boston lead.

OVER THE MOON

Every city the Raptors touch down in, invariably the local media asks Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell about Jamario Moon, the 27-year-old rookie who played in the minors for years.

Mitchell said there was so much misinformation about Moon before the Raptors invited him to training camp this year that it wasn't even funny -- such as, he didn't practise hard and he was a problem in the locker room. "This is a true story," Mitchell said yesterday. "Somebody told somebody in our organization that Jamario Moon couldn't read. (The guy) never talked to him, he never went to practice. He never stood within 20 feet of him. I told Jamario that and he was on the floor laughing. But what does that tell you?"


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