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The last time the Raptors and Celtics hit the court, Rajon Rondo did not play with a hamstring injury, and the Celtics lost 102-101, thanks to some shoddy officiating. They were left with a bad taste in their mouth, and as a result they haven’t lost since, soundly beating both the Hawks and Nets until they got their chance at revenge on Friday night.
Rondo made his return to action for the C’s, dishing out 14 assists in Boston’s 110-101 win. Rondo (eight turnovers) wasn’t the story however…as the players who were on the receiving end of his crisp passes did the most damage. Kevin Garnett led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Shaquille O’Neal finished with 16 points (5-5 shooting) and nine boards to help the C’s exact their revenge and win their third game in a row after consecutive losses.
“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin, because the last time we played them the guy in his position had a pretty good game,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s just Kevin Garnett.”
Jose Calderon led the way for the Raptors with 12 points and 15 assists, but it was the Toronto bench that stepped up to help the team nearly overcome a 21-point fourth quarter deficit. Toronto closed the gap to 99-93 with 5:20 to play in the game, but that’s as close as they would get. Linas Kleiza scored 18 points and grabbed 7 boards off the bench, and Leandro Barbosa added 14 points of his own.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis did his job in holding off the Raptors, hitting a big shot to help the C’s respond. He finished with 18 points off the bench — 10 of those coming in the final frame — and also tallied four rebounds and two assists. For the year, Davis is averaging around 10 points and 5 boards per game.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce also were effective, finishing with 17 and 18 points respectively. Pierce went 7/9 from the free throw line and added two blocked shots. Meanwhile, Allen went 6/12 from the field and 3/6 from beyond the arc and added eight assists, a steal, and two blocked shots of his own.
As a team, the Celtics shot 53.9%, with the majority of their scores coming under the hoop (the C’s outscored Toronto 64-44 in the paint). What was a concern, however, was Toronto’s dominance on the glass. The Raps out-rebounded the Celts 44-35, but also collected an alarming 17 offensive rebounds. This led to too many second chances, and had the Raps done better on those chances (45.1% from the field) and better from the FT line (69%), this game would have been even closer.
The Celtics get the rest of Thanksgiving Weekend off and next play on Tuesday night in Cleveland. It’s hard to call it a trap game for the Cavs with the East-leading Celtics coming to town…but LeBron returns home two days later on Thursday night, so they may be looking ahead to that game. Hell, I am too.