BOSTON — The Boston Celtics ended their losing streak in style Wednesday night.
After going 0-for-3 on their latest road trip, the Celtics got back in the win column with an exciting 117-108 victory over the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden.
Kyrie Irving turned in yet another set of late-game heroics and paced the Celtics with 27 points and 18 assists, while Al Horford wasn’t far behind with 24 points. Gordon Hayward (18 points) and Jayson Tatum (16 points) also scored in double figures for Boston.
Kawhi Leonard was his usual self with a game-high 33 points, but it didn’t prove to be enough.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 26-18, while the Raptors fell to 33-13.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
It was an offensive display in the first quarter, which concluded with the Raptors owning a 36-30 lead. Toronto gave Boston all sorts of early trouble in the early goings, grabbing an 18-7 lead thanks to 12 points in the paint within the first five minutes of the contest. But the C’s stayed the course and prevented the visitors from ballooning their advantage.
Irving paced Boston with eight first-quarter points, while Hayward provided a boost off the bench with seven. Toronto’s core four did the bulk of its damage, as Leonard led the way with nine, just ahead of Serge Ibaka, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry, all of whom provided seven. The two sides combined to shoot 59 percent from the field in the opening 12 minutes.
While the opening frame was very much a back-and-forth affair, the second quarter was all Boston. The Celtics shined on both ends of the floor, as they shot at a 62 percent clip, limited the Raptors to just 17 points and took a 64-53 lead into the break.
Save for Leonard’s seven points, the Raptors offense effectively was non-existent in the second frame. In fact, Boston forced Toronto into 24-second violations on back-to-back possessions just over three minutes into the quarter. But where the Raptors struggled, the Celtics shined.
Hayward was stellar for a second straight quarter, pacing Boston with nine points. The rest of Boston’s bench combined to score 12 points, including Jaylen Brown’s five.
RAPS PUNCH BACK
Third quarters have been problematic for the Celtics throughout the campaign, and that trend continued Wednesday. After growing its lead to as large as 16, Boston allowed Toronto chip away and cut the deficit to as few as two with four minutes left to play in the frame. The C’s didn’t let things get too off the rails, though, as they took an 87-83 lead into the fourth.
It could’ve gotten far uglier for Boston had it not been for Horford. After a quiet five-point showing, the veteran big man erupted for 12 in the third, which served as more than half of the Celtics’ total points in the quarter. Boston collectively shot 35 percent from the field. Ibaka did the heavy lifting for Toronto with 11 points.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Amid a playoff-like atmosphere, the Celtics and Raptors turned in a thrilling final frame.
Leonard gave Toronto its first lead since the second quarter via a fadeaway jumper with just under eight minutes to play. Save for an Aron Baynes’ game-tying 3-pointer just over a minute later, the Raptors maintained a slim advantage for the next three-plus minutes until Tatum converted from range to give the Celtics a 106-104 lead with three minutes to go. After Green knotted the score with a jumper, it was all Celtics.
Irving provided back-to-back clutch baskets, sinking a step-back jumper followed by a 3-pointer. A pair of Horford baskets and a Tatum runner wrapped up the win for the C’s.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Ice. In. His. Veins.
The Celtics return to action Friday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports