Paul Pierce Misses Game-Winner, Celtics Fall Short Against Raptors


Paul Pierce Misses Game-Winner, Celtics Fall Short Against Raptors Final: Raptors 102, Celtics 101. The Celtics didn't deserve to win this one, and sure enough, they don't. Paul Pierce misses the game-winning shot at the buzzer, but the captain's clanker is far from the only reason the C's come up short. This was just an awful game from start to finish for the Celtics, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Ray Allen makes an ugly turnover in the final seconds, and the C's hack away all day, putting the Raptors at the free-throw line with their consistently lazy defensive play. Boston falls to 9-4 on the season, deservedly so.

Nate Robinson's 22 points, four rebounds and two assists go to waste in this one. Andrea Bargnani drops 29 for the Raptors, while Amir Johnson adds a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds).

The Celtics have no time to stew in this one. They head straight to Atlanta, where they round out a back-to-back on Monday night against a Hawks team that swept them 4-0 last season.

Fourth quarter, 2.7 seconds, Raptors 102-101: Ray Allen is a 14-year veteran, but he just made a rookie mistake.

A Ray turnover gives the Raptors another shot, and they make the most of it. Amir Johnson gets to the line for two shots, he sinks them, and the Celtics are on the verge of blowing this game in epic fashion.

The C's now have 2.7 seconds to salvage this.

Fourth quarter, 21.3 seconds, Celtics 101-98: Glen Davis draws a big foul and gets to the line for two big, big shots. He hits them.

Now the C's are in control, but the Raptors are still just one clutch shot away from getting back into it. Bargnani, Barbosa and Calderon are all 3-point assassins.

The C's need one last stop. Can they get it?

Fourth quarter, 42.0 seconds, Celtics 99-98: You couldn't ask for a much worse shot from Sonny Weems there with the game on the line. Airball, directly into the hands of Ray Allen.

The C's have the lead and the ball now with under a minute to play. They're in good shape.

Fourth quarter, 1:24, Celtics 99-98: Shot clock violation. That's a huge stop for the Raptors. They've got a shot at stealing this thing now.

Fourth quarter, 2:29, Celtics 98-96: This Celtics comeback is worrisome, in a way. You don't want to reinforce bad habits.

This makes back-to-back games that the C's have played with horrendously subpar effort in the second and third quarters. Just because they might get away with it against the Toronto Raptors doesn't mean it's a good idea.

The C's need to show more consistent focus — no matter who they're playing. This has been a wacky week for them mentally.

Fourth quarter, 3:26, Celtics 98-94: It's now a 13-0 Boston run. The C's are in control.

Fourth quarter, 4:11, 94-94: Wow.

The Big Three comes through. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen each come up with a clutch bucket. The Celtics have come out of nowhere to tie this game — they've made runs of 7-0 and 14-4, and they've got a clean slate with four minutes to play.

They can erase 36 terrible minutes with four good ones here.

Fourth quarter, 5:54, Raptors 94-87: The C's just blew a golden opportunity to take a bite out of Toronto's lead, as both Paul Pierce and Nate Robinson missed open looks for 3.

The Raptors are still up seven. The Celtics will have to finish this comeback without their starting point guard (injured) or center (fouled out).

It doesn't sound easy when you put it that way, does it?

Fourth quarter, 7:32, Raptors 93-85: The Celtics are starting to string some stops together, and they've gotten four straight points out of Shaquille O'Neal. This game's not over yet.

Shaq just fouled out, though. Big Baby will have to be really big down the stretch for Boston.

Fourth quarter, 9:31, Raptors 90-79: Andrea Bargnani is killing the Celtics. Absolutely killing them.

The Raptors' No. 1 overall pick from 2006 has piled up 29 points in this game, and we've still got a ways to go. Bargnani is 9-for-17 from the field and 9-for-13 from the free-throw line. He's even hit two 3-pointers. He's all over the place, and the Celtics don't have an answer.

Time's ticking away. The C's need to wake up.

Fourth quarter, 10:27, Raptors 86-79: Delonte West is going to work early in this fourth quarter, knocking down jump shots over Leandro Barbosa. He's got four points in the quarter already. The C's just found another go-to weapon.

End of third quarter, Raptors 82-75: This is looking an awful lot like Friday night against OKC — the Celtics have played with subpar effort for 36 minutes, and they might not be able to fight their way back.

Even without Rajon Rondo, the C's have given a really pathetic effort against this bottom-feeding Raptors team.

They've got to give 12 minutes of focus, starting right now, to have a chance.

Third quarter, 2:45, Raptors 75-72: Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce all now have four fouls. Part of that is the officiating, but part of it is the Celtics are looking really lazy defensively. They've got to play harder and play better.

Semih Erden has come back into the game for KG. He's got four fouls too.

If the C's aren't careful, they'll be out of bigs soon.

Third quarter, 5:25, Raptors 69-68: Hack-a-Shaq? More like Hack-a-Everyone. Shaquille O'Neal is about to go to the free-throw line for the Celtics' ninth and 10th shots of the third quarter.

After all this sloppy defense and sub-par effort, the C's have a chance to take the lead midway through the third. Unfortunately for them, though, they need the big fella to hit some foul shots.

Third quarter, 6:57, Raptors 67-66: Nate Robinson sneaks into the lane and gets a layup. He's now got 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and the Celtics are within one.

They've still got to attack the rims more and more and more. The Raptors defense inside has been especially weak in this third quarter, and the C's need to drive to the basket hard.

Third quarter, 10:03, Raptors 63-61: The Celtics' effort on the defensive end has looked slightly better in this second half, and the Raptors' has been non-existent. Paul Pierce just cruised into the lane untouched for a dunk. It's a two-point game.

Stops are hard to come by in this one.

Halftime, Raptors 61-58: Holy smokes. The Raptors have outscored the Celtics 38-27 in this second quarter, storming their way to a three-point halftime lead over the Celtics.

This has been ugly. It's ugly for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost are the fouls. The Raptors have taken 22 free throws in this game, versus only 13 for Boston. Shaquille O'Neal has three fouls already in this game, Glen Davis has three, and Semih Erden has four. Doc Rivers might run out of bigs before the fourth quarter.

Nate Robinson has 18 points, two assists and two rebounds for the Celtics. He's been ridiculous. But everyone else looks like they're jet lagged, or still asleep, or something. They've got to give a better effort in the second half, on both ends of the floor.

Second quarter, 3:09, Raptors 48-47: The Celtics and Raptors trade 5-0 runs, and we're back where we started three minutes ago. The Raptors once again have a one-point lead.

The Celtics have to work the ball inside more. Toronto's defense is especially porous inside, with Bargnani milling around on the perimeter instead of protecting the rim. KG and Big Baby should be dominating right now. So far, they've only shown it in spurts.

Second quarter, 6:06, Raptors 43-42: The Raptors have come all the way back to take the lead.

Yikes. Remember when the Celtics led this thing by 13?

Second quarter, 7:07, Celtics 42-40: The C's are starting to get some offense from the wings — Marquis Daniels and Ray Allen are starting to put the ball in the hole, drawing some attention away from Big Baby inside.

The way Nate Robinson took over this first quarter, it took a while for the rest of the Celtics to find a rhythm. They're just now starting to shake the cobwebs off.

Second quarter, 8:51, Celtics 36-33: The Celtics' backups are really struggling. Glen Davis is working hard to get inside and score, but no one else is doing anything offensively.

Doc Rivers was hoping to rest his starters a little bit — on the road, back-to-back, easier opponent Sunday (Toronto) than Monday (Atlanta). But if the second unit plays this poorly, then Doc doesn't have a choice but to put his starters to work.

Second quarter, 10:13, Celtics 32-28: The Raptors aren't about to roll over and die. They're up and running, generating fast-break points and getting back into this thing. It's a 5-1 run to open the second quarter.

The Raptors have a lot of weaknesses, but one thing they can do is run. The C's will have to work hard to keep up.

The second unit is having an off-afternoon so far.

End of first quarter, Celtics 31-23: So far, the Celtics have looked like the Knicks of 18 months ago, only the uniforms are a little greener. Nate Robinson is dominating this game singlehandedly, with 16 first-quarter points on 6-of-10 shooting. He's 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Needless to say, this is a very, very different offense when Nate is running the point instead of Rajon Rondo. It's different in that the other four Celtics can stand there and watch.

Against a better team, the Nate Show might not be a big hit. But the kid's got the ability to just pick these Raptors apart. He's making it look easy.

First quarter, 3:14, Celtics 26-14: This Raptors team is really, really dreadful defensively. The Celtics don't even have to think — they're just chucking up every shot they see, and they're not usually contested. Basketball's easy sometimes.

Nate Robinson has 11 points and two assists. Rajon who? Never heard of him.

First quarter, 5:47, Celtics 18-7: Who needs effort? The Celtics haven't even turned it on yet, and they're already on a 7-0 run. They've got a double-digit lead after half the first quarter.

Nate Robinson gives the Celtics a different look at the point. You can't help off him and leave him open, like some defenses have done with Rondo — Nate will light you up.

The little man's got eight points so far. The Raptors' entire team has seven. Yikes.

First quarter, 6:52, Celtics 13-7: The Raptors are shooting a tame 3-for-8 so far in this game, but it's really hard to credit the Celtics' defensive effort for that. The C's are walking up and down the floor lazily. The Raps are just missing shots.

Will this keep up, though? The Celtics aren't likely to play with much heart, on the road against the bottom-feeding Raptors. But are the Raptors liable to hit a couple shots here or there? You can't count out Andrea Bargnani. If he gets hot, look out.

First quarter, 9:23, Celtics 7-2: The C's may not have Rondo, but they've got Nate Robinson running the show and making things happen early. A 3 from Nate makes it 5-0 Boston, and a lob inside to Shaquille O'Neal makes it 7-2.

The Celtics need Nate to be more than just a shooter in this game. They need a playmaker. So far, he's getting that job done.

First quarter, 11:39, Celtics 2-0: The Celtics are without Rajon Rondo at the Air Canada Centre, but they still draw first blood against the host Raptors. Point guard Nate Robinson finds Ray Allen for the opening bucket. We're underway, and the Celtics haven't skipped a beat without their All-Star guard.

8 a.m.: The rebuilding process continues for the Toronto Raptors.

This summer, the Raps unloaded arguably their two best players, losing Chris Bosh against their will in a sign-and-trade and dealing away Hedo Turkoglu as well. This weekend, they kept the wheeling and dealing alive, shipping Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks and David Andersen to New Orleans for Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic.

The Raptors have one of the NBA's worst rosters, and they're working on ripping it apart and starting anew. But in the meantime, they still have games to play.

The Raps take the court Sunday afternoon for their first game since the big trade, taking on the Celtics. The C's just lost an ugly one on their home floor to Oklahoma City, and they'll be looking to bounce back.

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