Friday, August 24, 2012

Easy win for Boston? No, Raptors make it interesting but fall short.

Toronto crossed borders to come play in Boston and they made it a mostly worthwhile trip. They might've gone back to the chilly north with a loss (4-14), but they left sweat, hunger and temerity on the floor of the TD Garden in a narrow defeat (94-102).

Rondo struggled in the first half that belonged to the visiting Raptors, and so did Pierce and KG, with Boston's offense falling heavily on Terry, Millsap and even Fab Melo. Had it not been for a reinvigorated Celtics squad in the 3rd quarter, Toronto would've smoothly rolled out of beantown with an impressive win. If only this game wasn't a tale of two halves, a game Boston outscored Toronto 24/16 & 31/26 to close it out.

The 3rd quarter saw surging reserve, Josh Howard (14 points, 2-2 from downtown), making unexpectedly huge shots that helped Boston take the lead and blitz beyond reach of Toronto's gutsy comeback late in the final period. Meanwhile, the struggling stars mended their mediocre play from the first half. KG, gritty as ever, gnawed his way to a solid 16 points and 13 rebounds and Rajon Rondo returned to his dazzling nature with a solid 19 points and 10 assists. Reserve Derek Fisher (7 points) and two free throws by rookie Jared Sullinger charged Boston past the 100 point mark to cap off the comeback.

In a losing but respectable effort, Andrea Bargnani (23 points, 12 rebounds), Landry Fields (17 points), Amir Johnson (16 points, 24 rebounds) and Jose Calderon (25 points) powered the Raptors.

What could've been a throwaway game for Boston proved to be the test they sought from the Knicks a couple games back, as they travel to south beach to clash with the defending champions, who have one more victory than the surging Celtics. Can the Celtics protect their 7 game win streak as they take on the coasting champions of yesteryear, along with former Celtic Ray Allen, who scorned the Celtics to play with the champs?

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