Raptors Hold Off Celtics 84-79

DeRozan was a perfect 13-for-13 from the line as the Raptors ended a four-game losing skid despite being without two of their top players. Big man Andrea Bargnani was shut down for the rest of 2011-12 with an aggravation of a lingering left calf injury that had forced him to miss nearly half the season, while point guard Jose Calderon was still feeling the effects of a right eye bruise and was kept out as a precaution.

Paul Pierce’s 18 points paced the Celtics (34-25), who nearly wiped out a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit but ultimately fell shot in the opener of a dizzying stretch that will see them play six games in six different cities over an eight-day span. Boston remained three games ahead of Philadelphia atop the Atlantic Division after the 76ers dropped a 95-89 decision to the New Jersey Nets.

The Celtics used relentless full-court pressure and timely shot-making to erase Toronto’s double-digit edge, pulling to within one on a three-point play by Pierce with 38.8 seconds remaining. DeRozan drew a foul on Toronto’s next possession and made both free throws to put Toronto ahead 78-75, but Pierce answered with a one-handed slam to trim the deficit with 20.5 seconds left.

Two more free throws by DeRozan extended the lead, and Pierce missed badly on a game-tying 3-point attempt. Linas Kleiza knocked down four free throws in the waning moments to put the game away, giving Toronto a split of the four-game season series.

Kleiza added 17 points in a reserve role for Toronto, which finished with a 50-37 rebounding edge.

Down 36-30 despite shooting 9-for-39 in the opening half, the Raptors pushed the tempo early in the third quarter and eventually pulled ahead on a long DeRozan jumper with 7:49 remaining. Alan Anderson followed with a three-pointer from the right corner and Amir Johnson added a short hook shot with 5:17 left to cap Toronto’s 17-4 quarter-opening run.

DeRozan knocked down a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock. Pierce responded with his own, but Kleiza’s 3 on Toronto’s next possession helped propel the Raptors to a 57-47 edge entering the fourth.

Anderson’s 3-pointer in the opening two minutes of the quarter extended the advantage to 15, and he hit another three from the right corner while being fouled to bring the Air Canada Crowd of 17,270 to its feet. He completed the four-point play to put Toronto up 72-57, cueing the Celtics’ comeback.

Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, while Rajon Rondo dished out 12 assists, giving him 20 straight games with double-digit assists.

NOTES: The Celtics were without G Ray Allen, who is hobbled by a sore right ankle and did not travel to Toronto. He is considered day-to-day. … Kleiza returned to the lineup after missing nearly the entire second half of Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia with a sore knee. … Toronto finished with just nine first-half field goals, narrowly avoiding the franchise low of seven set Jan. 11, 2010 in Indiana. … Boston plays just twice over the final six days of the regular season, wrapping things up with home dates against Miami and Milwaukee.

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DeRozan Scores 21 as Raptors Shock Celtics

Amir Johnson had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Aaron Gray matched a season-high with 11 rebounds as the Raptors avenged a 100-64 loss at Boston on Feb. 1, their worst defeat of the season. James Johnson scored 14 for Toronto.

The Raptors, who snapped a three-game losing streak, had lost five of six coming in and were treated with a rare standing ovation from the crowd of 19,207 in the final minute.

Kevin Garnett scored 17 points, Paul Pierce had 12 and Brandon Bass had 10 for the Celtics, who were without center Jermaine O’Neal because he had a sore left shoulder.

Ray Allen scored just six points and Rajon Rondo had only five. The pair combined to shoot 5-for-18.

The Celtics, who had won nine of ten before Thursday’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, lost back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game skid from Jan. 6 to 16.

Trailing 63-51, to begin the fourth, the Celtics were unable to mount a serious comeback. Allen’s jumper cut it to 77-69 with 3:35 left, but Linas Kleiza answered with a 3-pointer. And after Garnett made one of two from the line to trim the deficit to 81-72 with two minutes left, Calderon hit a step-back 3 to push the lead back to 12.

Toronto started brightly, using a pair of running dunks by James Johnson and Calderon’s alley-oop pass to DeRozan to open an 18-7 lead with 4:30 left in the opening quarter. DeRozan had nine points in the first, Calderon and Johnson had eight each as Toronto led 26-14 after one.

Boston made six turnovers in the first, but also had coach Doc Rivers fuming after failing to inbound the ball on one possession, forcing a timeout. Rivers yelled angrily at his team in the huddle before stomping back to the bench to let the players sort themselves out.

The Celtics closed the gap in the second, when Toronto made just four of 15 field goal attempts, but still trailed 41-34 at the break. Allen and Rondo combined for just two points in the first half, missing seven of eight shots.

The Raptors pulled away again in the third with DeRozan feeding Amir Johnson for an alley-oop to make it 61-45 with 3:52 left, matching their biggest lead of the game. Boston trailed 63-51 heading into the fourth.

NOTES: DeRozan has scored 20 or more in three of his past four games. … The loss snapped Boston’s season-high three-game road winning streak. … Celtics G Avery Bradley (right shoulder) and F Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist) sat out for the second straight game. … Toronto G Jerryd Bayless was unavailable after leaving Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee with a sore left ankle.

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Stiemsma Scores Winner, Celtics Top Raptors 76-75

Ray Allen scored 12 points for the Celtics, while Kevin Garnett had nine points and seven rebounds. Marquis Daniels had 11 points for Boston.

Andrea Bargnani led Toronto with 16 points, DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points and Ed Davis had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Boston’s Rajon Rondo, who had been bothered by a sore right ankle, started for the Celtics and finished with a team-high eight assists in 28 minutes.

The Raptors trailed 61-51 to start the fourth but rallied after Allen and Garnett headed to the bench. Jose Calderon’s 3-pointer made it 70-67 with 4:30 left and, after a missed shot by Brandon Bass, DeRozan’s layup cut it to one at 70-69.

Consecutive jump shots by Celtics rookie E’Twaun Moore gave Boston a 74-71 lead with 1:19 remaining, but a jumper by Bargnani and a tip-in by Amir Johnson with 26 seconds left made it 75-74 in favor of Toronto.

Stiemsma rebounded Moore’s miss and, after failing to score his first attempt, tipped in the go-ahead basket on his second chance.

Bargnani tried to put back DeRozan’s miss at the buzzer but his shot didn’t fall.

Allen scored seven points in the second as the Celtics took a 40-33 lead at the half.

Toronto outrebounded Boston 39 to 35.

Boston was without forward Paul Pierce, sidelined by a bruised right heel, while Toronto guard Anthony Carter was absent with a sore right shoulder.

The teams meet again in Boston on Wednesday night.

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