Raptors 114 – Celtics 106: Hold the funeral

The Raptors needed a victory quite badly, but the situation wasn’t looking good. Energized by sound defense and crisp outside shooting, they caught and passed the Celtics late for a happy result.

After a miserable pair of games in which the Toronto Raptors failed to hold leads entering the fourth quarter, fans of the team could certainly be forgiven for not holding out much hope.  The Raptors were down four points entering the final 12 minutes while displaying little more than a shocking propensity for committing sloppy turnovers. Yet their All-Star backcourt rose to the challenge, and Jonas Valanciunas enjoyed perhaps his best game of the season. The Raptors wore down the Celtics, took the lead on a Kyle Lowry 3-ball, and though Boston drew even twice, Toronto was not to be denied.

That nightmare in Chicago last weekend was the season’s most painful loss. This win might be the Raptors’ biggest to date. A third straight defeat would have dropped Toronto into a tie with Boston for second place in the Eastern Conference. Instead, there’s some breathing room, and a bunch of winnable games on the docket.

DeMar makes them count

One may frequently scream in dismay at DeMar DeRozan’s determination to turn every other offensive possession into a isolation opportunity. Yet on this night, the results can’t be criticized. A 41-point explosion, including 12 in Q4, was a tonic for Toronto. He even made a 3-ball – imagine that.

JV destroyed the smaller Celtics on the glass, grabbing 11 offensive boards on his way to 23 total. DeMar was a rebounding force as well, pulling down 13. The Raptors outrebounded the Celtics 50-33, and won the game. Correlation does not imply causation, but it doesn’t deny it either.

Jan 10, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk (41) dunks the ball against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 10, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk (41) dunks the ball against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors committed 11 turnovers in the first half, which they lost, but only 6 in the second. They scored 68 points in the final 24 minutes, and outscored Boston by 17. Fewer turnovers leads to more points…funny how that works.

Lowry continued his astonishing shooting from beyond the arc, missing only 1 of 6 attempts. Sadly, Terrence Ross’ profound slump is still with us. He couldn’t hit any of his 3 tries, and is…well, just really bad lately. I don’t want to list the numbers, as I’m not masochistic.

Patrick Patterson, still scraping the rust off his game after his injury woes, was pointless in 20+ minutes.

What’s next?

Toronto’s home stand continues on Friday night as the Brooklyn Nets are in town. [20-second timeout: Anthony Bennett has just been waived by these guys. Will he ever have a career? Perhaps he needs to spend some time in Europe or China.]

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