The Boston Celtics just keep on winning.
The Celtics recorded their 12th straight win with a 95-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. Boston was without Kyrie Irving (minor facial fracture) for the matinee matchup, but the rest of the Celtics’ usual starters rose to the occasion in the star guard’s absence.
Al Horford paced the green with 21 points to go along with four assists and three rebounds, while Jaylen Brown wasn’t far behind with 18 points. The Celtics also received a strong performance off the bench from Terry Rozier, who posted 16 points, six rebounds and three assists.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 12-2, while the Raptors fall to 7-5.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
Strong guard play was the theme of the first quarter, which ended with the two teams deadlocked at 24-24. As they typically do, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan paced the Raptors, posting 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the opening 12 minutes. Brown led the Celtics with eight points in the first quarter while also adding two rebound and two assists.
Horford showed no rust early on in his first game back from injury, scoring six points on 3-for-3 shooting in the opening frame. While Horford posted a perfect shooting line, it wasn’t a particularly pretty first quarter, as the two teams combined for 12 turnovers.
Boston came out sluggish in the second, as it didn’t log its first points of the quarter until a pair of Marcus Morris free throws 3:25 into the frame. Tatum registered the first basket of the quarter at the 4:11 mark.
But the C’s received a major lift in the form of Rozier. The versatile guard led all scorers with seven second-quarter points, including this four-point play at the end of the frame.
It was a relatively underwhelming half for the C’s, though, as the Raptors led 49-44 heading into the break. Boston only shot 33 percent from the field and had no scorers in double figures through two quarters.
The Raptor held a slim lead for the better part of the first half, but the Celtics used a strong third quarter to put themselves back on top.
After several minutes of back-and-forth action to open the third, a pair of Horford free throws at the 5:35 mark gave the C’s the lead, which they maintained through the rest of the quarter, holding a 77-76 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Boston used the 3-pointer to retake the lead, as it buried six shots from beyond the arc in the third quarter, including two apiece from Brown and Smart.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Celtics hung tough to keep their lead as the fourth quarter progressed, but the Raptors made things interesting by trimming the deficit to one in the final minutes.
Horford rose to the occasion in crunch time. The Celtics big man sent home a powerful slam with 2:09 left to boost Boston’s lead to three and then swiped a steal from DeRozan on the ensuing Raptors possession. Tatum made the turnover count with a smooth layup to swell the C’s lead to five.
But Toronto chipped away, getting back within one in the final minute of regulation. The game appeared to be iced after a DeRozan miss with 19 seconds left, but a Tatum offensive foul gave the Raptors one final shot to win the game. Toronto received a similar fate on its final attempt, though, as a DeRozan turnaround jumper rimmed out to preserve Boston’s win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Horford … with authority!
The Celtics return to action Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Tip-off from Barclays Center is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
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