By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The return of Marcus Smart after an eight-game absence due to an eye infection was not enough for the Celtics to overcome the Raptors on Saturday, as the Green found themselves on the wrong side of a 113-97 final at TD Garden.
Toronto started hot thanks to Kyle Lowry’s hot hand, with Lowry accounting for 11 of the Raptors’ 36 first-quarter points, and Lowry was one of three Dino starters to finish the half with double-digit points, as Lowry’s 14 were complemented by 12 from Patrick McCaw and 11 from Serge Ibaka.
The slow-starting Celtics would go on to score 15 of the final 21 points of the first half, however, and brought themselves within five points of the Raps through the first 24 minutes of action.
But the second half was full of teases and near-ties before Toronto pulled ahead behind a fourth quarter that saw the Raptors miss just eight of their 18 attempts in a 24-point quarter. It was over this same stretch that the Celts capitalized on just four of their 21 attempts, and missed all 12 of their attempts from three-point land to finish the night in a 16-point hole.
Lowry paced all Raptors with 30 points on a 10-for-17 shooting night (the Toronto guard also knocked down five of his 10 tries from deep). The Celtics’ Kemba Walker also finished with 30 points in the losing effort, but was not nearly as successful as Lowry from behind the arc, as Walker missed all but three of his 11 long-range looks by the night’s end.
Smart, meanwhile, finished with seven points and three steals in 23 minutes off the Boston bench.
Boston’s loss put an end to what was a five-game winning streak for the C’s, and gave the undermanned Raptors some semblance of revenge for what was an absolute beating the Celtics gave them in Toronto on Christmas Day.
Up next, the Celtics will travel down to Charlotte for a New Year’s Eve afternoon meeting with the Hornets.