Szczerbiak, Pierce Lead Celtics Over Raptors
Boston 124, Toronto 120
TORONTO, April 4 (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics used a variety of weapons to help their drive to reach the playoffs.
Wally Szczerbiak and Paul Pierce scored 22 points apiece and Raef Lafrentz added 20 to lead the Celtics to a 124-120 triumph over the Toronto Raptors, who have lost five straight games and were eliminated from playoff contention.
"My shot wasn't really falling but I stayed aggressive and played the way I know how to play," said Pierce, who made 18-of-24 free throws. "We're still playing like we have a chance to get into the playoffs."
Mike James scored seven straight points for the Raptors, including a jumper and a 3-pointer, for a 109-102 edge with 3:59 to go.
Szczerbiak converted a three-point play with 3:15 left and Pierce and rookie Ryan Gomes combined to make 6-of-6 free throws in a 9-0 run to put Boston on top, 111-109, with 1:43 left.
"We gave up a lot of points but we continued to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line and that prevailed at the end," Szczerbiak said.
After James hit a running jumper for the Raptors with 1:11 to play, Gomes made a layup, Tony Allen dunked and Gomes added a pair of free throws with 49 seconds remaining for a 117-111 edge.
"Hopefully, the young guys can continue to contribute and help us get wins because we are not out of it," Szczerbiak said.
Toronto got a three-point play from Matt Bonner, a layup from James and another from Morris Peterson to get within 120-118 with 12 seconds to go. However, Szczerbiak made two foul shots and Gerald Green dunked, sandwiched around a jumper by James to seal the win.
Gomes scored 17 points, Allen had 13 and Green 11 for the Celtics, who shot nearly 54 percent (36-of-67) from the floor.
Peterson scored 32 points, James had 25 and Bonner 16 with 13 rebounds for Toronto (26-48), which set a franchise record by making all 28 of its free throws.
"Tonight was a different night but the same story," Peterson said. "We had the lead down the stretch but didn't win."
"We're playing for pride right now," James said. "Everytime we come out onto the court, we've still got something to prove to ourselves. We can't lay down now."