Despite a sub-par shooting night from the floor and at the free throw line, the undermanned Raptors stayed with the Celics until well into the fourth quarter and pulled to within 75-80 on a Jose Calderon jumper with five minutes to play.
But Paul Pierce supercharged a decisive 7-0 run with a drive and vicious one-handed dunk, Shaquille O'Neal stepped up with a block and Ray Allen hit a dagger three-pointer before adding another 12-foot jumper to give the Celtics their biggest lead with three minutes to play.
Paul Pierce was huge, but Ray Allen was just as crucial as the game wore on for Boston. Seventeen of his 23 points came in the final two quarters, with nearly every shot keeping the Raptors at bay in a tight game. The guy charged with covering him certainly took something away from the performance.
"He definitely sets them [opponents] up and comes off looking to score and knock down that jumper," said DeMar DeRozan. "He doesn't miss to many shots and you can tell by the last three minutes that he was going to start knocking them down."
Don't let the shooting numbers fool you, DeMar DeRozan had another strong game as a handful of his misses were good looks that went halfway down or aggressive drives that invited a lot of contact.
He still scored a team-high 27 points on Sunday to boost his scoring average over the past four games to 24.5 ppg. Jay Triano has called this recent rash of injuries as opportunity for certain guys to step up and really, DeRozan's been Exhibit A. Next up? Maintaining that level of play when the Raptors get some offensive options back in the lineup.
"You’ve got to make shots. Our guys that shoot the best didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. I mean as for Linas (Kleiza), Leandro (Barbosa) and Jose (Calderon) had 3 field goals each. I mean we need more from those guys and they played extremely hard and it was just one of those finesse things where we just didn’t capitalize, and you’ve got to make your free throws in a game like this you can’t miss 11 free throws and that puts you behind a little bit and you have to keep working."
- Jay Triano, on points being at a premium
Tues., Jan. 4 @ Bulls
8 PM ET, Sportsnet, FAN590
The Raptors trip home was a short one as they'll hit the road again on Monday for another three-game road swing, beginning Tuesday night in Chicago. In the first meeting this season, the Raps started their youngest franchise starting five in franchise history with Bargnani and Calderon unable to play and were blown out 93-110. Chicago has won eight of 10 and four straight overall.
|.378||Shooting percentage for the Raptors|
|19-2||Offensive rebounding totals favouring Toronto|
|3||Double doubles this season for Joey Dorsey (13 pts, 13 rebs vs. BOS)|
|.071||3-Pt shooting percentage for Toronto (1-of-14)|
|42-32||Points in the paint totals favouring Toronto|
|"We missed a lot of chippies that definitely could have kept us in the lead and sometimes that happens."|
- DeMar DeRozan, on falling behind
|"I just think with him because he knows everything we run, we were back into running stuff that we had basically put into hibernation while he was out, so that was nice."|
- Celtics head coach Doc Rivers on the return of pg Rajon Rondo
|"I know Andrea (Bargnani) is ready to come back so I have to keep on trying to produce if I want to buy some time when Andrea comes back and try to earn some minutes so I can stay on that floor."|
- Joey Dorsey, on making the most of his minutes