Despite a cold shooting night from Jayson Tatum, the Celtics (10-2) were able to emerge with a 108-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors (5-7) at Scotiabank Arena and move to 2-0 during In-Season Tournament group play Friday.
Jaylen Brown led all C's scorers with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from three. It was a balanced attack for Boston, as the entire starting five went for double figures along with Al Horford (11 points, 3-of-4 from long range) and Sam Hauser off the bench. Hauser came out of the gates firing, as he connected on 3-of-6 from deep in the first half and also ended up with 11 points on the night.
Tatum struggled on 8-of-22 shooting, scoring 17 points and just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc, while also having zero free throw attempts. Kristaps Porzingis poured in 14 points, including a couple of clutch baskets in crunch time, along with 12 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.
Porzingis' three swatted shots didn't do his defensive efforts any justice, as the seven footer altered shot after shot at the rim throughout the night.
"I love it," Porzingis said of the In-Season Tournament in his postgame comments, "Vegas and all that I think it's going to bring a lot of excitement honestly. There's some skepticism because we don't know what it is, but I think after it's all said and done I think it's going to be exciting for years to come."
On the Raptors side, former Celtic Dennis Schroder and All-Star forward Pascal Siakam led the way for Toronto with 23 points a piece. Schroder was 9-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-11 from deep while adding seven rebounds and six assists. Siakam got all of his scoring production from inside the arc, shooting 11-of-16 from the field, while chipping in six rebounds and five assists.
The Celtics took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Raptors 39-17 to take a 65-49 advantage into the break. The Raptors quickly answered back in the third period, however, knocking down multiple triples in a row to open the second half en route to a 21-8 run that led to a 32-19 third quarter output and were ahead by three entering the final frame.
Toronto found themselves with a two point lead late in the fourth quarter two separate occasions before Porzingis hit back-to-back shots in the paint to tie the game each time. Derrick White (13 points, five assists) nailed a go-head 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds remaining after Siakam left him open in the corner in order to collapse on Jrue Holiday driving the lane -- which proved to be the game-winner, as the Raptors failed to even the score. Holiday, who recorded 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists, iced the win with a pair of made free throws in the final 8.0 seconds.
Late in the game, Brown slipped on the court and retreated to the locker room, as he appeared to have tweaked his groin. There were multiple incidents of players slipping on the court in this contest.
"I slipped. I think I might have strained my groin a little bit. We'll see how it feels, but the court was just slippery all game," Brown told reporters. "I think as players we're all here for the In-Season Tournament, because it's going to generate revenue, excitement, competition, but we've got to make sure the floor is safe to play on. We can't put our players out there and risk their health. Tonight, I thought the floor was unacceptable. I think guys were slipping all over the place, not just me."
Certainly, this will be something to monitor across the league as well as the status of Jaylen Brown's health.
The Celtics will take on the Memphis Grizzlies (2-9) next on Sunday night, who will be without Marcus Smart due to a left foot sprain. Tip-off is at 8 pm ET.
Boston was 45.7% from the field, including 16-of-46 (34.8%) from 3-point territory, while the Raptors were 48.3% from the floor and 12-of-33 from beyond the arc. Celtics out-rebounded Toronto 44-41, but outscored in the paint 54-40. The C's and the home team each dished out 29 assists on 42 made baskets respectively.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images