DeRozan drains 21 in Raptors' win over Celtics
Less than two weeks after the Boston Celtics humiliated the Raptors in their worst loss of the season, Toronto served up some revenge Friday.
DeMar DeRozan poured in 21 points to lead Toronto to a 86-74 victory over a weary Boston squad, earning just their third victory over the Celtics in 20 meetings.
"Excuse my language but I guess we just got tired of getting our asses busted," said Amir Johnson, who had 12 points to go with 12 rebounds. "They have been beating us all season and the pre-season. We finally stood up and hit them in the mouth."
Jose Calderon had 17 points, 14 assists, and zero turnovers for Toronto (9-19), in arguably the Raptors' most solid all-around performance this season. James Johnson had 14 points, while Aaron Gray grabbed 11 rebounds.
"It was solid," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "Everybody who played contributed. I thought our disposition was good. We talk about that a lot, guys coming out and playing with confidence, playing with swagger and we did that. That is the growth we want to see and not be in peaks and valleys in those situations."
Kevin Garnett topped the Celtics (14-12) with 17 points, while Paul Pierce added 12 and Mickael Pietrus finished with 11. But Ray Allen scored just six points and Rajon Rondo managed just five.
The Celtics had throttled the Raptors 100-64 in Boston on Feb. 1, their fifth consecutive victory over the Raptors.
But Boston was coming off an 88-87 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the previous night — a loss that snapped their season-high five-game win streak — and didn't stagger into Toronto until 3:30 a.m. Friday.
Casey reminded his team of that fact "Quite a few times. 'Keep running, keep pushing,"' the coach told them.
The Raptors jumped on the Celtics early, never trailing and leading by as much as 16 points in the first quarter. A five-point difference early in the third was as close as Boston would get as the Raptors took a 63-51 lead into the fourth and never looked back.
"I don't think anybody cared about shot attempts, no-one cared about the score they got, everybody just wanted to win," James Johnson said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth. . . I think more people were willing to win than to score 40."
Linas Kleiza poured in three three-pointers in the fourth, No. 3 putting the Raptors up 80-69 with just over three minutes to play before Calderon added a three-pointer and Amir Johnson scored on a long jumper as Toronto cruised to victory over their visitors. The crowd of 19,207 cheered on the Raptors with a standing ovation as the final minute ticked down.
"It feels great every time you win, even a little bit more when you beat a team like Boston," Calderon said. "I don't even remember when was the last time we beat them with the Raptors.
"We lost last time by 30 or 40 points. It was tough, that kind of loss in their home. That's why I think we were concentrating from the beginning, everybody was ready to play, ready to help each other, and that's how we've got to do it."
The Raptors shot 44 per cent on the night to Boston's 45, but outrebounded their visitors 42-34 and protected the ball well, giving up just six points on turnovers. The Celtics coughed up 15 points on 17 turnovers.
"Awful. I mean we were awful," said Boston coach Doc Rivers, who hollered at his team during one early timeout before stomping back to the bench to stew. "Toronto played great, they played with great energy. We beat them by a thousand the last time we played and they're grown men, going to take revenge. . . they just played so hard, they wanted it so much."
The Raptors raced out to a 16-point lead with an entertaining first quarter, taking advantage of a Celtics squad that scored just four baskets in the frame. James Johnson had a couple of huge dunks and Calderon tossed up an alley-oop to DeRozan, and Toronto ended the quarter up 26-14.
The Celtics used an 11-1 run to pull within six points early in the second quarter, but despite Toronto's woeful shooting — 4-for-15 for 27 per cent — Boston could come no closer. The Raptors took a 41-34 lead into the dressing room at halftime.
The Raptors poured it on in third, and when DeRozan found Amir Johnson for a spectacular alley-oop dunk with 4:08 left in the quarter the basket put Toronto up 61-45. The Raptors led 63-51 with a quarter left to play.
The game was the second of a seven-game homestand for Toronto, a stretch that ties a franchise record for most consecutive games in Toronto.