BOSTON — Friday night’s clash of Eastern Conference powerhouses at TD Garden lived up to the billing.
In a nonstop back-and-forth affair, the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 123-116 in overtime.
Trailing by eight at one point in the fourth quarter, the Celtics fought back to force overtime. Once in the extra period, Boston took control, never relinquishing the lead upon taking it 49 seconds in.
Kyrie Irving had a monster game, leading the Celtics with 43 points, while Jayson Tatum (21), Gordon Hayward (15), Al Horford (11) and Marcus Morris (11) also were in double figures. Kawhi Leonard paced Toronto with 31 points and was one of six Raptors in double digits.
With the win, the Celtics climb to 9-6, while the Raptors fall to 12-4.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Gordon Hayward
C: Al Horford
The energy was through the roof in the first, with both sides trading punches as the Celtics finished the frame ahead 30-27.
Trailing by four near the midway point of the quarter, the Celtics swung the momentum in their favor by stringing together a 9-0 run, taking their first lead of the game in the process while ultimately going up by five by the end of the stretch. Upon taking the lead, the Celtics never gave it up the rest of the quarter, despite Toronto pulling within two points on three separate occasions.
Irving led all players with 12 first-quarter points.
ONE RUN … AND THEN ANOTHER
Both teams put together big runs in the second period, with the Celtics getting outscored 25-24 in the stanza despite taking a 54-52 lead into halftime.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens sent Brown and Hayward out with the second unit to begin the frame, and for the second straight game they helped kick things into gear. The Celtics went on an 8-1 run in the first 1:49 of the frame to up their lead to nine, and by the 7:36 mark they had extended their edge to double digits.
The Celtics’ lead wouldn’t last, however. Toronto showed great resolve, posting a 10-0 run over 2:30 to give it a one-point lead with 90 seconds to play in the half. Boston responded, however, by posting the half’s last three points on a free throw and a layup to take the lead just before the break.
Four players had six second-quarter points, including Irving and Morris. Irving led all players at the half with 18 points.
RAPTORS TAKE CONTROL
Although the Celtics went into the half with most of the momentum, it was the Raptors who came out of the break firing. The visitors outscored the Celtics 30-24 in the third to take an 82-78 lead into the final frame.
Boston saw its halftime lead quickly evaporate, as Toronto scored seven unanswered over the first two minutes of the third to grab a five-point lead, but the Celtics roared back with a 9-2 run of their own to edge back in front.
The Raps took over in the second half of the frame, though.
After Toronto took a one-point lead, the Raptors opened up a 9-0 run to go up 10, their biggest lead of the game, with 3:25 left in the quarter.
The Celtics trimmed down the deficit to four in the final few minutes, but couldn’t push through enough to equalize before the end of the frame.
Leonard scored eight third-quarter points.
CELTICS FORCE OVERTIME
Early on in the fourth it looked like the Celtics may fold, but they fought back to force overtime, outscoring the Raptors 29-25 in the final 12 minutes.
After clawing their way back from an eight-point deficit, the Celtics tied the game at 90 at the 7:26 mark on a deep 3-pointer from Irving, then took the lead on a layup from Irving 20 seconds later.
The Raptors regained control down the stretch, with Delon Wright knocking down a three-pointer at the 1:29 mark to put Toronto up 107-103. Tatum pulled the Celtics back within two by throwing down a dunk with 48 seconds to go. Toronto failed to convert their next trip down the floor, with Hayward drawing a loose-ball foul to get to the line. The forward tied the game by knocking down both free throws.
Leonard had a chance at the final shot, but was guarded well by Morris and missed the 17-foot jumper, sending the game to overtime.
C’S DOMINATE OVERTIME
The Celtics controlled the OT period, outscoring the Raptors 16-9.
Boston grabbed a five-point lead with 3:09 to go, and maintained control despite a valiant effort in response from Toronto. Once the game got inside three minutes, the Celtics really started to take control, swelling their lead to as many seven.
Toronto pulled the game back within five, but a Horford dunk with 18 seconds left put the game away.
The Celtics will play the second game of their home back-to-back Saturday against the Utah Jazz. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.