By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics returned home from their five-game road trip in style, with a 120-106 win over the Toronto Raptors. Boston ended their road trip with back-to-back losses and dropped three of the five games, but looked like a refreshed and reenergized team on Thursday night.
Usually, teams lean on their star players to break out of slumps. That wasn’t the case for the Celtics, as it was their secondary scoring that got the job done. Semi Ojeleye, making his second start of the year, scored a career-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Payton Pritchard came up three points shy of a career-high, contributing 20 off the bench. Ojeleye and Pritchard were both 6-for-8 from three, and became the first Celtics teammates in franchise history to make six-plus three-pointers in the same game.
Meanwhile, the Celtics usual leading scorers acted more as facilitators. Jaylen Brown had a career-high 10 assists, with 12 points. Jayson Tatum also moved the ball well, with nine assists and 17 points.
Kemba Walker was the lone exception to the theme of the game, with 21 points. It was a big bounce back game for the 30-year-old, who was 5-of-12 from the floor after shooting an abysmal 30.4 percent from the floor on the road trip.
Clearly, the Celtics were happy to be back home. They opened the game with a 15-4 run, getting an early eight points from Ojeleye. Toronto was able to get within four, but the Celtics bench was able to re-extend the lead. It was a fantastic quarter for Pritchard, who scored eight points on two three-pointers and two free throws. After one, Boston led 34-29.
The Raptors put together another run at the start of the second quarter, getting within a score. Yet again though, Semi Ojeleye pulled the Celtics through the rough patch. He scored 11 in the quarter, and had 19 at the half, driving the Celtics to a 66-56 lead at the break.
Toronto was down by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, as Ojeleye and Pritchard stayed hot. The Celtics got a nice contribution from Walker as well as he works his way out of a shooting slump. He had six points in the frame. Boston took an 88-80 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter followed a similar pattern to the first three, where Toronto went on a small run early, before the Celtics regained control. Boston’s lead grew to as large as 18 points, and Brad Stevens was able to play his reserves in the final two minutes of the wire-to-wire win.
With the win, the Celtics improve their record to 13-11 on the season. That’s good for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, which entering Thursday night had only four teams over .500.
The Celtics wrap up their back-to-back at TD Garden Friday night against the Pistons. That game tips off at 8:00 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.