TORONTO - It wasn’t a complete game by any stretch of the imagination, but the Raptors did open the 2013-14 season with a win.
The Raptors overcame a truly dreadful third quarter - in which they squandered a 12-point lead - with a decent fourth quarter, leading to a 93-87 victory over the Boston Celtics before a sellout crowd of 20,155.
All pre-season long, the Raptors have been talking about overcoming adversity and not letting one mistake lead to another.
All that talk came to the forefront in the fourth.
Having given back what they worked so hard for in the third, the Raptors put the troubles behind them, getting contributions from the entire starting five.
Down the stretch, the starters came up big - stretching a game that had been in doubt to a 10-point lead with 2:32 to go before coasting home.
First, it was Amir Johnson battling underneath and coming up with a bucket.
Then it was Rudy Gay from the elbow, hitting nothing but net and pounding his chest for emphasis on the way back down the court. DeMar DeRozan came down the next possession and powered his way into the paint before hitting an off-balance jumper off glass.
Through a half, everything was moving along as one would expect.
The offence was being spread around nicely with no one Raptor dominating the ball or the scoring.
The bench, in particular, was impressive.
Perhaps it was just a case of low expectations, but a 21-6 edge in bench points stood out.
Point guard D.J. Augustin, who had been mostly silent through the pre-season, finally started to make some noise again. Starting the second quarter to give Kyle Lowry a rest, Augustin looked every bit the five-year veteran, particularly on a mid-quarter drive to the hoop when he kicked it out to a wide-open Steve Novak for an uncontested three.
Augustin wound up with five points and a couple of assists, but did a nice job keeping the Raps in rhythm and holding serve as Casey is wont to say.
But the biggest impact off the bench came from Tyler Hansbrough, who came exactly as advertised from his play in the pre-season.
Hansbrough battled the Celtics in the paint for eight rebounds, three on the offensive glass through the first three quarters.
But he was at his best early in the fourth quarter when it looked like the Celtics were about to run away and hide. On back-to-back possessions, it was Hansbrough to the rescue with blocks to take away scoring opportunities from the Celtics.
Hansbrough finished with a team-high 12 rebounds and seven points, the kind of night that will endear him to the Raptors faithful.
Gay wound up leading the team in scoring with 19 points, including a team-high seven in the deciding quarter.
The Raps did not shoot the ball particularly well, finishing the night at just over 44%.
But the real problem area in that third quarter was the turnovers. Through a half the team, had committed just eight turnovers - but doubled that in the third quarter alone.
Lowry had a tidy game with 11 points and eight assists.
The Raptors return to action Friday in Atlanta against the Hawks.