Live Blog: Raptors at CelticsFinal, Celtics 103-96: A much-needed victory against a division opponent that had quietly crept closer and the Celtics have to be feeling a bit better about themselves.

Give credit to Doc Rivers for stitching together some lineups which seemed to work, and to guys like Glen Davis and Eddie House, who gave great energy off the bench.

The C’s have three days off (the last time all season they will have such a break this season) before opening a three-game road trip on Wednesday in Miami. Rajon Rondo is expected back, and Paul Pierce may join him.

We will be following all of the action in that one so be sure to check back. And keep your eyes peeled for a feature on the banged-up C’s surviving this one.

Fourth quarter, 14.2 seconds, Celtics 101-96: Kendrick Perkins’ third traveling violation of the game gives the Raptors a pulse.

Fourth quarter, 1:12, Celtics 99-91: A Kendrick Perkins basket puts the Raptors in a bit of a desparate mode.

If you are wondering, they rank among the league leaders in 3-point shooting percentage and are 7-of-14 in this one, so they can cut into a deficit in no time.

Fourth quarter, 1:19, Celtics 97-91: Tony Allen gets Chris Bosh in a switch and torches him for a big layup, but Jarrett Jack responds with his third 3-pointer in as many attempts to keep the Raptors within six point.

Fourth quarter, 3:00, Celtics 92-83: Rasheed Wallace had a few words for the Raptors’ bench after that dunk restored the Celtics’ lead to nine points.

Wallace spun on the ultra-soft Andrea Bargnani and threw it down with two hands.

Moments later Tony Allen draws an offensive foul and gets up in pain, apparently with a shoulder or elbow injury. He seems fine and is going back in.

Fourth quarter, 3:39, Celtics 90-83: Chris Bosh’s hook trims the Raptors’ deficit to five points but Ray Allen scores on a jumper.

Fourth quarter, 5:40, Celtics 86-79: A little more love for Eddie House after he blocks a Marcus Banks layup before the timeout.

House and Glen Davis have combined for 27 points off the bench for the C’s.

Fourth quarter, 6:17, Celtics 86-77: Andrea Bargnani picks up two fouls in eight seconds trying to defend Kendrick Perkins, and Tony Allen makes it count with a huge slam to open up a nine-point bulge.

Fourth quarter, 7:15, Celtics 84-77: Jarrett Jack’s 3-pointer pulls Toronto within six points, the closest it has been in the second half.

Fourth quarter, 8:30, Celtics 83-74: Old friend Marcus Banks hits a 3-pointer and a Celtics turnover gives Toronto a chance to get even closer after the timeout.

Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen are slated to return after the break, likely for the stretch run. It’s been nearly six minutes since we have seen Rasheed Wallace. He will return soon.

Fourth quarter, 9:44, Celtics 81-71: Toronto has missed a ton of easy shots, it seems, and the Celtics continue to take advantage, this time on a 3-pointer by Eddie House.

End of third quarter, Celtics 78-67: Hudson to House to Scalabrine to Davis. That’s what got the Celtics a basket to close the third quarter on a night when the big names are few and far between.

Davis now has 15 points and four boards in 15 minutes.

One hates to use the term “must win” so early in January but the Celtics are 12 minutes away from getting a game they really needed.

The next three games are on the road and who knows when the club will be completely healthy again. Defending home court against a division opponent is imperative.

Third quarter, 2:27, Celtics 72-62: Glen Davis and Eddie House gave the Celtics some great minutes off the bench in the first half and the two teamed on a play seconds after entering here in the third, leading to two free throws for Davis.

Third quarter, 2:47, Celtics 70-62: A few wasted possessions for the Celtics has allowed Toronto to creep back in a bit.

Both teams are shooting exactly 50 percent at this juncture. The difference is the 18-13 advantage the C’s have in made free throws and a 28-21 edge on the boards.

Third quarter, 3:49, Celtics 70-60: A nice sequence sees Tony Allen throw a pass the length of the court to Kendrick Perkins, who was cherry-picking at the other end and gives the Celts their largest lead with a dunk.

Moments later Rasheed Wallace has a nice block of a Chris Bosh shot, but it doesn’t lead to any points for Boston.

Third quarter, 5:38, Celtics 68-58: Ray Allen leads the Celtics with 16 points – six already here in the third – but has done it without benefit of a 3-pointer and with a rare miss from the line. A bit odd for Allen.

On another note, J.R. Giddens has looked a tad overmatched at times with Hedo Turkoglu but after stopping the Raptors forward on a recent possession got a heavy dose of support from Rasheed Wallace, who you can tell just despises Turkoglu.

Third quarter, 8:39, Celtics 64-55: One of the great things about seeing such odd mixes on the floor – you get to witness Rasheed Wallace running a fast break and finding Tony Allen for a circus shot, as we just did.

Ray Allen follows with a basket and the C’s matched their largest lead.

Third quarter, 10:42, Celtics 58-51: Underway here in the third quarter and just wanted to pass on a little note regarding Eddie House.

House, who had nine first-half points and led the Celtics with 17 in Wednesday’s loss to Phoenix, has now surpassed the 100-minute mark without a turnover.

The giveaway-free stretch has covered nearly six games for House.

Halftime, Celtics 58-48: We are a few minutes from the start of the second half and I just wanted to wish a Happy 43rd Birthday to my brother, Michael, an old-school Celtics fan who liked to emulate Dennis Johnson on the basement Nerf court.

Halftime, Celtics 58-48: Boston closes the half on a 16-8 run and it could’ve been better if the last possession was not botched.

Ray Allen’s defender had fallen down on the play but nobody saw how open he was in time and they didn’t get a shot off.

But back-to-back 29-point quarters looks real good when you consider the C’s are doing this with so many big pieces missing.

Back in a bit for the second half.

Second quarter 40 seconds, Celtics 56-48: Glen Davis returns and offers instant energy once again. He scored on back-to-back hoops, giving the C’s their largest lead on a breakaway dunk.

Second quarter, 2:39, Celtics 49-44: Rasheed Wallace spent most of the timeout here talking with official Josh Tiven before he was pulled away by Paul Pierce.

Then, apparently not done, Wallace shot a few more words at the Raptors bench. Amir Johnson, for one, was seen shouting back.

It would be serious cause for concern if Wallace cannot control himself in a game when the club is so shorthanded. Keep an eye on this.

Second quarter, 2:55, Celtics 49-44: The Rasheed WallaceHedo Turkoglu affair continues as both are whistled for technical fouls after coming together under the hoop.

Remember, Wallace was fined by the league after calling out Turkoglu following the last meeting between the teams in November. In that game the two jawed on more than occassion.

Second quarter, 6:12, Celtics 38-36: Lester Hudson buries a 3-pointer, his third of the season, to give the C’s a four-point advantage.

Hudson and Eddie House have looked like a better pairing in the backcourt for Doc Rivers. It will be interesting to see how Rivers handles that down the stretch.

Tony Allen is the best defender of the bunch but looked very shaky with the ball in his hands at times. Plus, the Celts issues defensively are up front with the likes of Chris Bosh and the tall, yet rangy Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani.

Second quarter, 8:56, Celtics 31-30: Glen Davis gave the Celts some really strong minutes there, over nine in total after Kendrick Perkins picked up two quick fouls.

Davis had five points and three boards and showed no ill effects of a sprained right ankle that forced him to sit Wednesday.

Second quarter, 9:25, Celtics 31-29: Glen Davis has a layup and gets fouled to break a streak of 5:26 without a basket for the Celtics.

The hosts missed seven straight shots and had a handful of turnovers in that span.

End of first quarter, Celtics 29-27: Toronto ends the first quarter on a 7-0 run and the Celtics went the last 3:10 without a basket.

Still, a quality first 12 minutes for the C’s. If Tony Allen and Eddie House can do a better job of getting the team into some sets things might look even better. As it stands the Celts are dominating the interior with a 12-8 advantage on the boards and by getting to the line at a nice clip.

Boston took 13 free throws in the opening quarter.

First quarter, 50.5 seconds, Celtics 29-25: Tony Allen is the lone Celtics starter to play every minutes thus far.

He just received some unkind words from fans after a poor possession that saw him find Eddie House in a difficult spot with the shot clock running down and two defenders in the area.

Toronto has three swingmen — DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright — with at least two fouls. DeRozan has three.

First quarter, 2:38, Celtics 35-18: Rasheed Wallace has hit a pair of 3-pointers and already has surpassed his scoring total of six from Wednesday’s loss in Phoenix.

Wallace seemed listless and a tad tentative in that one but has been a bit more aggressive on a night when the Celtics will need his scoring.

Boston is shooting 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) from the floor. Outside of Chris Bosh, who is 4-of-5, the Raptors are 4-of-13.

First quarter, 4:22, Celtics 20-12: A miscommunication on defense on the part of Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis leads to a dunk by Chris Bosh, but Davis is showing some early spunk in his home debut.

While his ankle bears watching so does his fatigue, especially marking a guy in Andrea Bargnani who likes to move around the perimeter.

First quarter, 5:37, Celtics 14-10: Doc Rivers said before the game that the shorthanded C’s will have to outwork the Raptors and win the hustle departments.

He has to like the early returns. The Celts have all four of the game’s fast break points and have owned the boards (9-4) early on. A pair of offensive boards in traffic have led to baskets for Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen.

First quarter, 7:29, Celtics 10-6: Not to stay too long on one topic but we are all interested in how J.R. Giddens does early on.

He just stripped Jarrett Jack and then scored on the other end to give the C’s their largest lead.

Before that we were reminded just how soft the Raptors can be at some times. Kendrick Perkins easily grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of three Toronto defenders and had a putback.

Perkins has picked up his second foul, however. Something to watch with a limited lineup. Glen Davis has replaced him.

First quarter 9:54, Raptors 5-4: J.R. Giddens is on Hedo Turkoglu to start things off. The Raptors have shuffled their defensive assignments a bit but have Jarrett Jack on Giddens and Turkoglu marking Ray Allen.

Kendrick Perkins and Chris Bosh are matched up underneath.

First quarter, 11:29, Celtics 2-0: We are underway in this one and it took J.R. Giddens seconds to make an impact as he grabbed a rebound on a Raptors miss.

7:38 p.m.: We are being introduced to the Celtics’ starting lineup and I have to admit it’s a bit odd not hearing names like Rondo, Garnett and Pierce blurted out amid the laser light show.

J.R. Giddens was given a rather lukewarm welcome, but you know he’ll be a hero with a nice effort tonight. Paul Pierce is also out there in his suit jumping around with the team. Gingerly, of course.

7:05 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden, where Doc Rivers has just briefed us on what he expects from his patchwork lineup.

Rivers will start Tony Allen, Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens, Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins.

He expressed confidence in giving Giddens his first career start.

“He’s just improved,” Rivers said of his second-year swingman. “There’s no way he would [start] last year because he wasn’t ready…He’s not as mistake-prone, he’s a better team defender.”

As for the injured Celtics, Rivers said he expects Rajon Rondo to be available when the team travels to Miami on Wednesday. Paul Pierce is “50/50” for that game, according to Rivers. Kevin Garnett is still 10 days away or so.

With a banged-up bunch against the Raptors, Rivers said he is hoping for a return to the basics – hard play and defense.

“We’ll break the glass, pull out the hatchet and go to work,” Rivers said. “We have to be the better defensive team.”

Tony Allen will handle the bulk of the ballhandling duties but will share with Ray Allen in a stream of what Rivers called “continuity plays,” which simply require that first pass to be made successfully.

Toronto, which has lost five straight in the series, will start Jarrett Jack and DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt, with Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani up front.

There have been multiple sarcastic references among the media masses that this is shaping up to be a “D League” game. At the very least it will be interesting to see how the C’s respond. With a difficult three-game road trip on the horizon it does not lack for significance.

11:00 a.m.: Another game, another star in street clothes for the Boston Celtics, who will likely be without Rajon Rondo when they host the suddenly surging Toronto Raptors at TD Garden.

Rondo is expected to join Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the sidelines for this one in order to rest his sore hamstring, another blow for a banged-up unit that has dropped three straight following a 23-5 start.

Coach Doc Rivers has left the door slightly open for Rondo to have a limited role against the Raptors, but the chances are the C’s will start Tony Allen and Ray Allen in the backcourt, and J.R. Giddens up front with Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins.

Giddens would be making his first career start. He matched a career high with four points in Wednesday’s 116-98 loss at Phoenix.

On a positive note, Glen Davis is expected to suit up after sitting Wednesday with a sprained ankle.

While Boston has started to slide Toronto has strung together a season-high five-game winning streak.

All five of the victories came against losing teams, however, and four were at home. The Raptors dropped a 116-103 decision at the Garden on Nov. 27.

Rondo, Pierce and Garnett combined for 42 points and 22 assists as the Celts shot 62.3 percent from the floor in that one.

Tip is scheduled for just after 7:30 and we will be courtside to bring you all the action, so be sure to check back for pregame chatter and any other injury updates.