The Boston Celtics looked like they were going to lose once again to the Toronto Raptors, even with an injured DeMar DeRozan sidelined.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
The C’s came storming back from a double-digit deficit Wednesday night at TD Garden to top the Raptors 109-104 and take a 1 1/2 game lead in the Atlantic Division and for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed.
Isaiah Thomas, aka “The King in the Fourth,” had 44 points, including 19 fourth-quarter points. Jae Crowder (14 points, eight rebounds), Marcus Smart (10 points) and Al Horford (11 points) were the other C’s in double-figures. Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 32 points, while former Celtic Jared Sullinger had a big night with 13 points.
With its fifth consecutive win, Boston improved to 31-18, while Toronto dropped to 30-20.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
BAD START, BETTER FINISH
The Raptors scored the first seven points and led 24-13 with under two minutes remaining in the first quarter, but the C’s mounted a 15-6 rally at the end of the frame to keep it close. Boston’s big weapon during that stretch was it’s 3-point shooting, as Thomas made two and Jonas Jerebko and Smart each made one. The second of those Thomas 3-pointers came from way downtown in the closing seconds.
Toronto had another strong quarter offensively in the second, and this time Boston couldn’t mount a comeback late. The Raptors went on a 9-0 run during the frame to take a 45-32 lead, and they led by double digits for most of the remaining time before the half.
Toronto only made 4 of 17 3-point shots in the first half, but it fared much better inside the arc by making a remarkable 21 of 26 shots. And in unsurprising news, the Raptors held a 27-17 rebounding advantage through the first 24 minutes. Thomas was the game’s leading scorer in the first half with 20 points.
THE KING IN THE FOURTH
The Raptors maintained a pretty healthy advantage for most of the third quarter, but the C’s did cut their deficit to single digits at 85-77 heading into the fourth.
The Celtics came to within five points multiple times in the first half of the fourth, one of which came after Brown made two free throws after he was fouled hard while driving to the basket. He appeared to take exception to the play, and things got a bit heated between both teams. On the next C’s possession, Brown responded with this:
Thomas then powered the Celtics to the lead thanks to seven consecutive points, which made it 95-94 Boston with 4:38 remaining. And Thomas and the Celtics pulled out the win after a thrilling close to the divisional showdown.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Here’s that IT 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter:
La La Land is heading to Boston. The C’s will host the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, and they’ll welcome Paul Pierce and his Los Angeles Clippers back for one final regular-season trip Sunday at 2 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images