Friday, February 24, 2017

Raptors 107 - Celtics 97: DeMar DeRozan leads 17-point comeback over C's

It only took 24-hours after the NBA trade-deadline to get a glimpse of what type of help Toronto's new additions could provide, especially in the fourth quarter. Despite the Celtics staying pat on Thursday afternoon, they built a 17-point lead before DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors made their comeback to a 107-97 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

Fresh off his All-Star bid last weekend, where he started the game for Brad Stevens and the Eastern Conferance side, DeRozan scored a new career high 43 points on Friday night to go along with his 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

Newly acquired Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 7 rebounds in his debut for the Raptors, who are now 34-24 and a game behind the third place Washington Wizards, who also loss against the Sixers.

Cory Joesph, who started in place of the injured Kyle Lowry (wrist), finished with 11 points and 6 assists, while being handed the task of guarding his All-Star counter part Isaiah Thomas for most of the night. Patrick Patterson also chipped in 11 points to lead the Toronto's bench and P.J. Tucker in his first game as a Raptor added 9 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Thomas, who struggled, shot 6-of-17 from the field and went 3-of-10 from behind the arc for 20 points, and 5 assists to lead the Celtics, who have lost two in a row and are now four-games back of the first place Cleveland Cavaliers at 37-21.

Marcus Smart led the C's bench with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 32 minutes as a sixth man, while Jae Crowder also finished with 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point land. Jaylen Brown returned to the Celtics' starting lineup after missing the last three-games with a hip-flexor injury, chipped in with 13 points.

Boston came out defending, forcing turnovers in the first quarter and shooting great that led to a double digit advantage midway through the second. With 2:22 left in first half, Isaiah Thomas was shoved by DeMarre Carroll on a breakaway, clear path layup. Thomas, who got up right away and began to walk towards Carroll before Jae Crowder stepped in between the two to prevent any further altercation.
"It was intentional, did you see it? That's not a basketball play," said Thomas after the loss. "Guys who aren't factors in games do that, it is what it is...That's not cool that he did that."
Both Thomas and Crowder were assessed technical fouls for 'taunting' while Carroll was hit with a Flagrant-1 call.

Despite the Celtics being up 55-45 at intermission, the Raptors would go on a 13-4 run to start the third quarter (21-6 run overall beginning after Thomas was pushed). Toronto grabbed their first lead of the second half and led the rest of the period before Marcus Smart hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to put the C's up 77-74 entering the final frame.

With the game tied 88-88 with 4:46 left, Crowder hit a 3-pointer as the Celtics took another lead before both teams went back and forth. Crowder hit another long ball, that was ruled a two-pointer to keep Boston up 97-94. Toronto would end the game on a 13-0 run to pick up the victory after forcing Celtics turnovers and grabbing offensive boards for second chance opportunities during that last minute and 30 seconds of play.

The Raptors win their season over the Celtics 3-1 after once again not having an answer for DeMar DeRozan, who finished with 41 points the last time these two teams played back on Jan 10th 
"It's very frustrating," said Jae Crowder. "He's a great scorer in this league. We threw a lot of different looks at him and he came off a lot of pick-and-rolls and basically having his way with us for the past two games."
The Celtics will head to Detroit on Sunday to take on the Pistons, tip-off is at 6 PM.

Game Notes:

Avery Bradley (right Achilles), traveled and practiced with the team, but it is still unknown when his official return will be. Gerald Green (left heel) was out Friday and will miss Sunday's game against the Pistons.

Joel Pavón

Picture used courtesy of Associated Press

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