Celtics 93 Raptors 79
TORONTO — It came down to shooting.
A team like the Toronto Raptors can’t afford to shoot 38 per cent from the floor, seven per cent on three-point attempts and 45 per cent from the free-throw line and expect to beat a team like the Boston Celtics, even if they are without a star like Kevin Garnett.
Those were the Raptors’ numbers Sunday as they played for the fourth game in a row with out Andrea Bargnani, who has a strained calf.
And they added up to a 93-79 win for the Celtics, boosted by the return of point guard Rajon Rondo who had missed the previous seven games with a sprained ankle. He had four points and eight assists.
“You’ve got to make shots,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said.
The Celtics had 30 points from Paul Pierce and 23 from Ray Allen who were a combined 6-for-8 in three-point attempts.
The Raptors, who shot 1-for-14 from three-point range, were led by DeMar DeRozan who had 27 points on 11-for-25 shooting, including 1-for-5 on three-point attempts.
But their other scorers in double digits were a couple of players who are better known for rebounding and defence — Joey Dorsey had 13 points and 13 rebounds and Amir Johnson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We missed a lot of easy buckets,” DeRozan said.
Added Triano: “Our guys that shoot the best didn’t shoot very well tonight. I mean as for Linas (Kleiza), Leandro (Barbosa) and Jose (Calderon) they had three field goals each. 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.”
The Celtics who shot 54 per cent from the field and 50 per cent on three-pointers weren’t particularly good from the foul line, either, hitting on 11-of-19 attempts.
DeRozan’s 27 points came after a career-best 37 points in the loss in Houston on Friday.
“He played OK,” Triano said. “He’s being aggressive. If he keeps playing this hard and taking the ball to the basket he will soon earn some of the respect other players in this league have, and the whistle will start to go in his direction.”
Then after a pause, he said, “Political.”
But it still came down to shooting.
“I wish our guys got rewarded a little bit more for the work and the effort that they do,” Triano said. “And I think that they would have got rewarded had they made more shots.”
It was a game between two teams both hit by injuries and the Raptors were still within five points with slightly more than five minutes to play but could not repeat their Nov. 21 victory over the Celtics at Air Canada Centre.
The Celtics (25-7), who had lost three of their previous four games, led 71-62 entering the fourth quarter. The Raptors (11-22), who have lost 11 of their past 14 games, cut into that by scoring the first six points of the fourth but Allen answered that push with a three-pointer. Nate Robinson bumped the lead to eight with a jumper.
Calderon, who was a game-time decision because of a sore left foot, hit a pull-up jumper to cut the lead to five with 5:04 to play.
Pierce’s driving dunk gave Boston an 82-75 lead and Allen hit a three to give Boston a 10-point lead with 3:47 to play. Allen hit a 12-foot pull-up jumper and Boston led by 12.
Although Rondo was back, the Celtics were still without Garnett (strained muscle in his right leg), Kendrick Perkins (knee surgery) and Delonte West (broken right wrist).
In addition to Bargnani, the Raptors were without Sonny Weems (back), Jerryd Bayless (sprained left ankle), Reggie Evans (fractured right foot) and Peja Stojakovic (swollen left knee).
Johnson continues to play through back spasms and Barbosa has a bruised right knee.
Dorsey is one of those players gaining more playing time because of the injuries.
“Another double-double for him,” Triano said. “He gobbles up rebounds, he takes up space. For the most part he does the right thing on the defensive rotations. He earns us other possessions. I’ll take 13 points and 13 rebounds from him on that basis for sure.”
Notes: DeRozan who scored a career-best 37 points in Friday’s loss at Houston, averaged 15.9 points in 15 games in December and entered Sunday’s game averaging 13.8 points a game for the season. …Raptors head coach Jay Triano said that the injuries that have hit his team have at least allowed some of the younger players to get more playing time than expected so it could help their development. …The Raptors bench scoring averaged 39.3 points for the first 16 games of the season but dropped to 33.9 in the next 6 games. …Toronto is at Chicago on Tuesday. …Attendance at Air Canada Centre was 19,986.