Raptors thrashed by CelticsStarting lineup shuffle fails again
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
|Celtics forward Kevin Garnett drives past Raptors forward Ed Davis at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., Feb. 1, 2012. (JESSICA RINALDI/Reuters)
BOSTON - The head coach was angry. The general manager could just shake his head. Ed Davis simply slumped in the locker room, holding his own bowed head.
That’s what happens when a team gets hammered 100-64, shooting 34.2% from the field the way Dwane Casey and Bryan Colangelo’s Raptors did in Boston on Wednesday night.
“I told the team, for the rest of your basketball career, remember how this feels tonight, getting beat by 40. I can’t remember getting beat by 40 and it’s the worst taste you want to have,” Casey said.
“That’s something you never want to forget. You take that, you learn from it, you build from it. You never want to feel it again.”
Casey shuffled in Aaron Gray — who performed quite well offensively with eight points and nine rebounds — and axed his two-point guard lineup, but it didn’t work.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in just 26 minutes. Ray Allen added 12 as the starters got half of the evening off.
Jerryd Bayless led the Raptors with 14 points, Davis notched his second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Opening frames have not been Toronto’s friend so far this season and things didn’t work this time around either with the visitors trailing 29-16 after one.
By the time Kevin Garnett nailed an improbable three as the seconds wound down in the first half with Boston holding a 57-35 advantage, all Gray could do was extend his hands skyward. A disgusted DeMar DeRozan fired the ball all the way over the backboard on the other side of the court.
Gray was also frustrated afterwards, but confident the team would be able to respond.
“Just understand that when you don’t match another team’s intensity that nobody is going to feel sorry for you … they’re going to try to do everything they can to break your spirit and that’s what seemed like it happened,” Gray said.
“We have to figure out how to respond and make sure this never happens again.
“There’s 66 games. If you dwell on one it can bring down your whole season. I don’t think anyone has given up.”
Casey said he would put the Raptors through a practice on Thursday, a rarity following a back-to-back set.
“We owe it to the city, the organization, ourselves to go back in and correct some of the things we didn’t come through tonight,” Casey said.
“We’ll see what we’re made out of, whether we’re going to come out and fight or flight. I really believe that we have character in that room. I expect us to come out and compete and play hard (against Washington on Friday).”
NOT CLOSING TIME
One particular thing the Raptors did poorly for much of Wednesday’s game was closing out on the Celtics. The visitors were late closing down the middle, leading to easy lay-ins — often with a foul thrown in for good measure. If the Boston buckets weren’t coming inside, they were coming about as a result of Toronto’s inability to defend the drive-and-kick at all. Time after time, Celtics drove inside before easily finding a wide open teammate for three. When it is Paul Pierce and Ray Allen open, opponents usually pay the price.
When Allen followed a Pierce bomb with one of his own to extend the lead to 30 in the third quarter, the Garden faithful cheered wildly, before getting up to leave en masse.
The game was Toronto’s NBA-leading 15th on the road so far. The team had a chance to equal its six wins away from the ACC in 2010-11, but dropped to 5-10, still better than its home mark. Toronto’s 19 games in January were the most played in one month in franchise history. A seven-game homestand (tying the franchise record) awaits in February … Linas Kleiza was held out by the Raptors in order to prevent his playing through a back-to-back on a surgically repaired knee. Kleiza knocked Rajon Rondo out of Boston’s lineup the last time these two clubs met. Rondo should return on Friday … Andrea Bargnani did not travel with his teammates to Boston and Toronto is 1-7 without him this season.
BRADLEY STEPS UP
The Raptors liked former Texas guard Avery Bradley a lot prior to the 2010 NBA draft – bringing him in for multiple looks. A top five recruit coming out of high school, Bradley did not excel for the Longhorns and dropped to 19th after coming out a year before most observers thought he was ready. He has come a long way … The teams recently met at TD Garden and the result was a 96-73 Boston win even though the Celtics came into that one on a five-game losing streak. Now, Boston is winning (6-of-7), even without Rondo. Why? Paul Pierce. He’s just really a force to be reckoned with,” Casey said. “Pierce has taken over that (point guard) spot from the three position which is very difficult to match up with.”