Depleted Celtics good enough to beat Raptors

Steve Buffery, QMI Media

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

BOSTON ­— The Celtics have five standout starters, a lethal basketball fist.

Last night, against the visiting Raptors, the Celtics’ fist was without three of its fingers in point guard Rajon Rondo and forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

But the two remaining fingers, forwards Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace, provided enough leadership and scoring to guide the home side to a 103-96 victory in a foul-filled game at the TD Garden, and snap the Raptors’ five-game win streak. Typically, the Celtics also played tough, physical defence, and that was a big difference in the game.

“We have to learn how to play like they do,” Toronto coach Jay Triano said. “Where you play that hard on defence and not have fouls called against you. They played hard defence and had one foul called against them in the fourth quarter. We have to learn how to do that.”

Not that the Raptors didn’t try to play hard. Toronto picked up 27 fouls, leading to 25 Celtics points from the free throw line. Boston had 21 fouls.

“Every one of our guys was in foul trouble early trying to play (hard defence),” Triano said. “That took away a little bit of our aggressiveness that we were trying to establish defensively.

“They played very hard, we knew they were going to do that, they execute, they banged us inside and we were trying to not let the catch come in and we just didn’t work hard enough in the low block defensively to take that away from them, and the result was a lot of points in the paint.”

The Celtics, who attacked the basket all night, scored 48 inside to 30 for Toronto.

Allen scored 23 while Wallace had 16. Eight of 10 starters in the game scored in double digits.

Andrea Bargnani replied with 21 for the Raptors while Chris Bosh, who is closing in on Vince Carter’s franchise career points record, added 25 with nine rebounds. Small forward Hedo Turkoglu had another all-round game with 12 points, seven assists and seven boards.

“We can’t dwell on the loss too much, we have a game (tonight) against the (San Antonio) Spurs back at home,” Bosh said. “We have to put this in the back of our minds and keep going.”

Another difference were the substitutes. Led by centre Glen Davis, who had 15 points and five boards, the Boston bench out-scored Toronto’s 34-21.

The Celtics also out-rebounded Toronto 36-28 and improved to 24-8. The Raptors fell to 16-18.

The Raptors played well defensively during their five game win streak, but fell back to their porous ways last night, allowing the Celtics to shoot 51.4%, while shooting 49.3%.

It doesn’t seem to matter whom the Celtics dress, the Raptors have trouble against the Bostonians, with one win in the past 10 regular season games, dating back to the 2007-08 season.

The Celtics held a 10-point lead (58-48) at the half.

Boston held an 11-point lead (78-67) heading into the final quarter and led by 12 with 2:45 left after Ray Allen hit a three-point jumper. But the Raptors continued to claw back, cutting the lead to five on a Bargnani three-pointer with 1:01 remaining. But an Allen layup 13 seconds later all but ended it.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca


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