The Toronto Raptors' fourth-quarter comeback fell short in Boston as they missed an opportunity to get to .500 for the first time this season, falling 120-106 at TD Garden.
While Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were held to a combined 29 points, the Celtics were given a big boost from Semi Ojeleye, who recorded a career-high 24 points, Kemba Walker 21 and 20 off the bench from rookie Payton Pritchard.
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Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 24 points and six assists, while Pascal Siakam continued his good run of form, adding 23 points on the night.
For more on the game, here are some thoughts at the buzzer...
1. Fatigue catches Raptors
After going 4-1 through the first five games of their six-game road trip, the heavy legs set in for the Raptors in the final game of their road trip.
Playing their fifth game in seven nights and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors, who trailed by as many as 19 points, cut the deficit to five (98-93) with 6:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, before the Celtics used a 15-5 run to cruise to victory.
The Raptors had their chances after entering the final frame trailing by just eight points, but a poor stretch in the third quarter summed up their night as they missed eight consecutive shots in a three-minute span, as both teams looked out of rhythm offensively.
To sum up Raptors vs. Celtics 😅 pic.twitter.com/jQ3IiyWLp5- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 12, 2021
The Celtics were sharper all night and quicker to loose balls, outscoring the Raptors 17-0 in second-chance points.
2. Celtics too hot from beyond the arc
While the Raptors dominated in the paint, outscoring the Celtics 58-32 inside, they just couldn't hang with the Celtics, who knocked down a season-high 20 triples, outscoring Toronto from deep 60-18.
The Raptors managed just 9-of-28 from beyond the arc, while Boston had three players bury 5 threes or more - Walker (5), Ojeleye (6) and Pritchard (5).
.@semi (6-8 3-PT) and @paytonpritch3 (6-8 3-PT) are the first pair of teammates in franchise history to both make at least six 3-pointers in the same game ☘️@TDBank_US | #HumanBehindTheNumber pic.twitter.com/7jf6OSNJKq- Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 12, 2021
Entering tonight's game, the Raptors had scored 120+ points in each of their past five games, with their offence looking its best all season, as they averaged 17 made threes per game during that stretch.
3. The Semi Ojeleye game
With the Celtics zeroed in on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the duo turned playmakers, recording 19 assists between them - the most assists the pair have ever had in the same game.
The Raptors dared the Celtics' role players to shoot and they did just that as Ojeleye led all scorers with a career-high 24 points and six rebounds on 6-of-8 from deep.
"We are kind of trying to kind of funnel the ball [to Ojeley and Pritchard]," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said post-game.
"We probably shouldn't have funneled it so much in certain scenarios, if that makes any sense. We had plenty of help and didn't need to help off them after they hit a few. ... I think we were trying to do the right things and give them credit, they shot, those guys shot them kind of into a comfortable double-digit lead for most of the night."
.@FCHWPO finds Semi underneath- Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 12, 2021
RT to make JB an #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/UrkpjfSDUZ
4. Payton Pritchard loves playing the Raptors
After recording a career-high 23 points and eight assists in their January win over the Raptors, the Celtics rookie was at it again, dropping 20 points off the bench.
Pritchard provided a spark against the tired Raptors second unit, helping the Celtics outscore their reserves 38-31 on the night.
6⃣ threes apiece for Semi Ojeleye & Payton Pritchard in the @celtics win!@semi: 24 PTS (career high)@paytonpritch3: 20 PTS pic.twitter.com/mLmHmYCqCk- NBA (@NBA) February 12, 2021
5. Boucher = block machine
Chris Boucher continues to shine on the defensive end for the Raptors, collecting five blocks in 25 minutes on court as his case to earn minutes alongside the starters continues to grow.
Tonight marked his sixth game of the season with 3+ blocks, adding 12 points and six rebounds in the win.
Chris loves blocking people pic.twitter.com/GZuxU6J53x- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 12, 2021
He is currently fourth in the NBA with 2.0 blocks per game, behind only Myles Turner, Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela. Boucher is the only player in the top five for blocks, who comes off the bench.
6. Anunoby inching closer to his return
The Raptors sorely missed the perimeter defence of OG Anunoby as he was sidelined for a ninth-straight game with a left calf strain after being listed as questionable for tonight's game.
The good news: According to head coach Nick Nurse, the swingman is expected to return to the lineup for their next game.
OG Anunoby will not play tonight for Toronto, but Nick Nurse says he should be back for the team's next game on Sunday.- Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 11, 2021
7. What's next?
The Raptors will enjoy two days off before facing the Minnesota Timberwolves in Tampa on Sunday.
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