The Celtics jumped out to a nice lead against the Raptors on Friday night and everything seemed fine. Coach Doc Rivers was able to empty out his bench and play some of the deep reserves significant minutes. When the starters came back in, however, they left their games on the bench. They were outscored 27-11 in a brutal third quarter and couldn't close the gap in a terrible 84-79 loss. Toronto, who was starting two players recently called up from the D-League, shot just 35 percent and still got the win.
The Celtics were able to pull within a point with less than a minute remaining on two separate occasions, but DeMar DeRozan made all four of his free throw attempts and was 13-for-13 from the line. A Paul Pierce 3-pointer that could have tied the game was forced and missed badly. (Boston was 4-for-19 from 3-point range).
While the Celtics were getting beat, the Hawks crushed Orlando giving Atlanta a one-game lead in the race for homeport advantage in a potential 4-5 matchup. The only positive on Friday night was the Sixers lost to New Jersey, leaving Boston with a three-game lead in the division.
There was plenty of blame to go around. Rajon Rondo continued his streak of double-digit assist games, but didn't score any points himself until the fourth quarter and didn't record a rebound. Kevin Garnett shot 5-for-16 and Mickael Pietrus was 1-for-7. The lone bright spot was Avery Bradley who scored 15 points to go with six rebounds and four assists.
This was the first game of a back-to-back-to-back with all three on the road. They play the Nets on Saturday and the Bobcats on Sunday.
For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.
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