written by Ryan Dickison
RAPS 102, CELTICS 101
The Toronto Raptors entered Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics with a few familiar faces missing from their usual rotation. Jarrett Jack, David Andersen and Marcus Banks were sent to the Big Easy in a 5-player deal for combo-guard Jarryd Bayless, shooting guard Peja Stojakovic and cash considerations.
A depleted bench did not deter the Dinos on this day however, as they clawed their way to a hard fought victory over a savvy veteran squad, thanks in large part to Amir Johnson who iced the game on a pair of free throws with less than three seconds remaining in the game.
The Celtics rolled in to Toronto short manned as well with the league’s top distributor, Rajon Rondo sidelined due to a strained left hamstring. It was his replacement Nate Robinson who came out firing on all cylinders. The three-time slam dunk champion finished with 22 points, 16 of which came in the first quarter alone.
Leandro Barbosa was welcomed back to line up after a six game lay-off with a strained left shoulder and looked surprisingly comfortable at the point guard position. The Brazilian Blur patiently read what the defence threw his way and adjusted accordingly without forcing the situation at hand.
Collectively, the Raptors did a much better job of getting to the free throw line (30-39) and didn’t settle for the always tempting three point shot. They came out a little sluggish offensively in the third quarter but defensively only allowed Boston to 17 points.
The Celtics locked down on defence late in the game as they usually do holding Toronto scoreless for nearly six minutes in the final frame but the home team weathered the storm and collected their third consecutive win.
- Andrea Bargnani scored 29 points, while Amir Johnson contributed with 17 and 11 off the bench
- The Raptors ended an eight-game losing streak to the Celtics dating back to January of 2008
- Bayless and Stojakovic are both expected to make their Raptors’ debut Wednesday against the 76ers at home.