The Boston Celtics (13-11) defeated the Toronto Raptors (12-14) by a final score of 120-106 Thursday night at the TD Garden. This was a much-needed win for the Celtics after coming off back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. Boston led all the way throughout, but don’t let that fool you, this was a tough game against the Raptors.
Semi Ojeleye scored a season-high 24 points, 19 of which came in the first half. Kemba Walker had a bounce game after his last performance with 21 points (5-12 FG, 5-8 3PT, 6-6 FT) in 30 minutes of action. Payton Pritchard continued his strong rookie campaign with a 20-point performance while shooting 6-10 from the field, 6-8 from three and a perfect 2 of 2 from the line. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown didn’t have great scoring nights, but they did contribute in other ways. Brown posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists, while Tatum added 17 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Tristan Thompson led the team in rebounds with 11.
The key for the Celtics tonight was their team passing, shooting and strong second-half defense. Boston had a total of 30 assists on 86 made field goals. As a team, they shot an incredible .513 percent from beyond the arc (20-39 3PT). When the offense went cold in the second half, it was the defense that helped them maintain their hold on the game.
For the Raptors, Kyle Lowry finished as the team-high scorer with 24 points. Pascal Siakam finished not too far behind with 23 points, while Norman Powell chipped in 15 points. Chris Boucher added 12 points off the bench and Fred VanVleet dished out a team-high 11 assists.
Boston came out of the gates hot, opening the game with a 17-6 run. They even held the Raptors scoreless through the first 3 minutes of the game. However, things started to click for the Raptors and they countered with a 14-7 run of their own. Back to back threes from Pritchard helped quiet the Raptors and Boston would outscore Toronto 10-7 to end the quarter (34-27).
The second quarter was a back and forth affair with neither team being able to break away. The Raptors never led in the game, but they did cut the Celtic’s advantage to 3 points with about a minute left in the second quarter. Boston closed the half on an 8-1 run, taking a 10-point lead into the locker-room (66-56).
Pritchard and Ojeleye led the way for Boston in the first half with incredible efficiency. Ojeleye scored an astounding 19 points with 5 three-pointers, and Pritchard pitched in 14 points while knocking down 4 three-pointers in the first half. As a team, Boston shot a remarkable 60% from beyond the arc in the first half (12-20).
The defense picked up to start the second half as both squads were held under 25 points in the third quarter. The Celtics did establish a 15-point lead with 5:53 left in the third, but Toronto would go on to outscore Boston 24-22 in the quarter. With the Celtics holding an 8-point advantage to start the fourth, the Raptors made one final push. They cut the Celtic’s lead to 98 to 93 with 6:40 left in the game. After struggling offensively through large stretches of the second half, Boston’s finally got things clicking and they ended the game on a 22-13 run, giving them the 120-106 victory.
The Boston Celtics return to action tomorrow on Friday, Feb. 12, where they will take on the Detroit Pistons at 8 p.m. ET at the TD Garden.
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