Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels carry the Celtics offensively in the fourth quarter, and Boston emerges with a four-point win over the Toronto Raptors in their TD Garden opener.
Robinson, Daniels, Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal all finish in double figures for the Celtics, who win this one with a balanced team effort and a deep bench.
Fourth quarter, 41.2 seconds, Celtics 91-87: Delonte West with the huge block. Looks like the C's might pull this one out.
Fourth quarter, 1:21, Celtics 89-87: A thunderous dunk from Stephane Lasme, a big 3 from Nate Robinson, and the C's are back in front. These bench guys are making plays when it counts.
A Von Wafer free throw makes it a two-point lead. Jay Triano calls a timeout with 1:21 left and furiously goes to work scribbling X's and O's. Let's see if he's got a plan to pull this one out.
Fourth quarter, 2:55, Raptors 84-83: Andrea Bargnani has made two free throws to put the Raptors up one. The C's have called a timeout. Let's see what Doc has planned for these final three minutes. Can he teach these bench guys to get a couple clutch stops?
Fourth quarter, 4:27, Celtics 81-80: Sonny Weems breaks the silence, scoring the first points for either team in two-plus minutes, but Nate Robinson quickly answers with a bucket of his own.
Nate might be the key to the Celtics' game plan for the final four minutes. They need his offense to have a chance.
Fourth quarter, 5:50, Celtics 79-78: It really says a lot about the Celtics' depth that five guys from the back of their rotation can match the Raptors' starters blow for blow. Calderon, DeRozan and Bargnani remain on the floor for the Raps, fighting for this win like their lives depend on it, while Stephane Lasme and Luke Harangody battle them to a stalemate.
Knowing Doc, he probably won't bother to use his starters in crunch time for this one. The only real question is whether we see Von Wafer or Mario West tonight. If Doc doesn't use the two youngsters soon, there's a good chance he'll end up cutting them this week. Now's as good a time as any to throw them into the fire.
Fourth quarter, 7:22, Celtics 79-78: Ladies and gentlemen, Marquis Daniels has come alive. The Raptors insist on leaving Daniels wide open in the corner on every play, and Daniels is making them pay. He's scored seven straight points.
The Raps have called a timeout. They've got to make some adjustments to get out on the wing and slow down Daniels, who now has 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Fourth quarter, 9:25, Raptors 74-70: The Raptors have their first lead of the game, and rather than fight back, Doc Rivers is digging deeper into his bench.
Stephane Lasme checks in for the first time, replacing Luke Harangody. The Celtics' starters seem comfortably settled into their seats on Doc's bench.
Fourth quarter, 11:20, 68-68: Not a good start to the Celtics' fourth quarter. Semih Erden gets whistled for two fouls in the span of 11 seconds, and Leandro Barbosa gets another wide-open corner 3 to tie the game.
We'll soon find out how much Doc Rivers cares about winning preseason games. If he wants to pull this one out, he'll give the Big Three plenty of run in crunch time. The youngsters really aren't playing well at the moment.
End of third quarter, Celtics 68-65: The Raptors get a huge five-point run from Leandro Barbosa in the final minute to stay within striking distance, but the C's maintain a three-point lead with one quarter to play.
Doc's got a bench unit of Nate Robinson, Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden on the floor.
We haven't heard a peep out of Von Wafer, Mario West or Stephane Lasme. That can't be a good sign for three youngsters fighting to make Doc Rivers' final cut. The D-League may be in their futures.
Third quarter, 2:36, Celtics 62-55: Doc is letting Rondo and the Big Three get an extended run in the third quarter. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he actually cared about winning this game.
Having the four stars out on the floor with Semih Erden is a really strong lineup — smart, unselfish, defense-first. If the two O'Neals continue to have problems this season with injuries and foul trouble, you might see this lineup a lot. Not a bad problem to have.
Third quarter, 5:56, Celtics 56-52: One big problem the Celtics need to fix before the regular season gets underway: Shaquille O'Neal's got to stop getting in foul trouble. The big fella has five fouls tonight in 16 minutes.
With Shaq sitting out and Jermaine O'Neal's minutes being closely monitored, it looks like we'll be seeing plenty more of Semih Erden tonight.
Third quarter, 8:03, Celtics 54-48: Jarrett Jack has dropped five consecutive points on the C's to keep this game close. Looks like Rajon Rondo fell asleep for a couple of possessions defensively.
Rondo's one of the best on-ball defenders in the game, but he's letting Jack outplay him in this third quarter. First he leaves him wide open for a corner 3 (swish), and then he leads him glide right by for a layup untouched.
It's only preseason. Rondo can flip the switch once the games start counting.
Third quarter, 10:31, Celtics 52-43: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Shaquille O'Neal violently misses a dunk on the Celtics' first possession of the second half, but he comes back a minute later and throws down a monster one-hander off a lob from Rajon Rondo.
Diesel's got 11 points now to lead the Celtics. The Raptors don't really have an answer for him in their starting five — Andrea Bargnani is as soft a starting center as you can find in the NBA. Typical European perimeter guy.
Halftime, Celtics 46-39: The Celtics take a seven-point lead into the locker room thanks to a tremendously balanced effort. Ten C's have scored, none of them in double figures.
Kevin Garnett still leads the way for Boston with seven points; Shaquille O'Neal also has seven, while Ray Allen and Nate Robinson each add six.
The only man in double figures tonight is — yep, you guessed it. Sonny Weems. The Celtic-killer has 11.
Second quarter, 2:58, Celtics 38-29: What is it about Sonny Weems that gives the Celtics fits? The guy went off for 21 against them last April, and he's got eight points tonight on 4-of-7 shooting. Why can't they stop this guy?
The good news for the Celtics is that the rest of the Raptors combined are shooting 8-for-26, or 30.8 percent. If they could only figure out how to slow down a 24-year-old fringe D-Leaguer, they could push their lead back to double digits.
Second quarter, 5:09, Celtics 36-23: It's official — Boston still loves Nate Robinson.
Nate has hit a pair of 3s in the last minute and a half, opening the Celtics lead to a whopping 13. This second unit is scary when the little man gets hot — he can give the Celtics instant offense.
Doc's letting his starters get plenty of rest tonight.
Second quarter, 7:29, Celtics 28-19: Luke Harangody has four defensive rebounds in three minutes, and he nearly got a fifth bedorte tipping it to teammate Semih Erden.
The Celtics are on a 7-2 run since Harangody entered the game. That's no coincidence.
This kid is playing hard.
Second quarter, 9:04, Celtics 28-17: Glen Davis is on the C's bench, having taken a hard charge from Raptors big man David Andersen. Looks like he's got a bloody nose — he's holding a towel over his face and tilting his head back as he sits.
Luke Harangody is in the game for the C's in Big Baby's place. He's already made a nice hustle play to save a Celtic turnover.
Harangody's doing everything he can to earn a role on this team. Looks like he could fit as the 12th man off of Doc Rivers' bench.
Second quarter, 10:54, Celtics 21-17: Welcome to the block party. Jermaine O'Neal has already blocked three shots for the Celtics tonight; Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson have two blocks each for the Raptors.
J.O. comes out early in the second quarter, giving way to Semih Erden. Warm welcome from the Garden fans, who no doubt have recognized the fast start this fall from the Turkish rookie.
End of first quarter, Celtics 21-16: For the second time this preseason, we've witnessed the Celtics play a ridiculously good first quarter defensively. On Wednesday, they held the Sixers to only nine points; tonight the Raptors get 16.
Kevin Garnett leads all scorers so far with six points on 3-of-7 shooting; DeMar DeRozan has five points for the Raptors.
Solid first quarter for the C's, although the offensive execution could still stand to be a little smoother.
First quarter, 2:10, Celtics 20-14: This is probably a pretty good sneak preview of how the Celtics' rotation will look in the regular season. Ten minutes in, the C's are going with a lineup of Rajon Rondo and four backups.
The C's have a solid second unit with Delonte West and Nate Robinson as their reserve guards, but Rondo is too competitive and too stubborn to come out. The Celtics' All-Star point guard averaged 36.6 minutes per game last season.
The C's have the personnel to change that this year, but Rondo doesn't seem interested.
First quarter, 2:56, Celtics 18-14: The Celtics have a modest lead in this first quarter despite some rather sloppy play offensively. They've got six assists and six turnovers so far.
Jermaine O'Neal just flicked a bad pass to Rajon Rondo, who fell out of bounds trying to save it.
The C's are coming along nicely as a team this preseason, but crisp ball movement is definitely still one area they need to work on.
First quarter, 4:02, Celtics 16-10: Both Jermaine O'Neal and Delonte West have checked into the game for the first time. Both receive nice ovations from the Garden faithful.
I wonder how many of the fans here tonight remember Delonte from the good old days of the 2006-07 Celtics? That 58-loss season seems like eons ago. All the Celtic diehards of that era have been replaced by fairweather Big Three fans.
First quarter, 5:54, Celtics 16-8: You can tell the Celtics aren't taking these preseason games seriously — they keep trying silly alley-oops.
First Ray Allen lobbed one to Shaq a couple a minutes ago, and Shaq almost dropped it and then managed an off-balance layup. Then KG tried throwing up an alley-oop to Paul Pierce, and Pierce just missed completely.
The C's will get around to trying that whole "ball movement" thing once the regular season rolls around. At least I assume so.
First quarter, 7:35, Celtics 12-7: Ray Allen already has a pair of fast-break buckets. Ray's playing the part of Rajon Rondo, capitalizing on turnovers to run the break and get easy transition points.
Meanwhile, Rondo hasn't attempted a shot yet.
These are the Bizarro Celtics.
First quarter, 9:04, Celtics 6-5: The Celtics have an early lead, with KG, Shaq and Ray Allen each scoring once. But Bargnani has two blocks already, having stuffed a driving layup from KG.
The Raps are trying to turn the Celtics into jump shooters. Knowing this C's team, it doesn't seem too difficult.
First quarter, 10:57, Celtics 2-0: We're underway. After the two sides exchange turnovers to start the game, Kevin Garnett draws first blood with a long two.
The C's were stifled on their first play with Paul Pierce trying to drive the lane and Andrea Bargnani stuffing him. Bargnani's presence as a shot-blocking threat can't be ignored — it's the one bright spot on an otherwise dreadful defensive team.
6:05 p.m.: Jay Triano calls an audible — no Jose Calderon, no Linas Kleiza in tonight's lineup. Jarrett Jack and Sonny Weems get the start instead.
Astute Celtics fans might remember Weems as the guy who killed the C's in the final week of the regular season last year, going off for 21 points.
5:30 p.m.: Doc Rivers has announced that Shaquille O'Neal will start for the Celtics at center.
Jermaine O'Neal is getting over the hamstring injury that kept him out of action this week, but Doc wants to keep J.O. limited as he nears 100 percent. Expect to see the younger O'Neal come off the bench and spell the elder one.
Meanwhile Avery Bradley is nearing a return as well. Doc says that the C's first-round draft pick "could" play, but he doesn't look quite ready. Seeing the rookie guard make his debut sometime this week wouldn't be out of the question.
5 p.m.: Looks like Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani will get the start this evening for Raptors head coach Jay Triano. Updates to come from Doc Rivers' corner shortly.
4 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where the C's are two hours away from tipping off their first true home game of the preseason.
We'll get some thoughts from head coaches Jay Triano and Doc Rivers momentarily, followed by lineups and eventually an opening tip. Get ready for some hoops.
9 a.m.: It's been nearly four months since the Celtics took the floor at the TD Garden. On Sunday night, the wait is over.
It won't quite have the glitz of Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers, when the Celtics left Boston with a win on June 13. But the C's are finally back home, and they're taking on the Toronto Raptors in their first preseason game in Boston.
This is the beginning of a grueling preseason stretch for the Celtics — five games in five different cities over seven days.
The C's are 2-0 so far in this young preseason, but what lies ahead will be a challenge.
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