Raptors 86, Celtics 74: Toronto Prevails, Boston Drops Second Straight

On Friday night, a fatigued Boston Celtics team dropped their second straight contest as they were defeated by DeMar DeRozan (21 points) and the Toronto Raptors, 86-74 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Boston Falls To Toronto, 86-74

After going on a streak from Jan. 22 through Feb. 7 in which the Boston Celtics won nine of 10 games, the Celtics have now lost two games in a row after losing to the Toronto Raptors by a score of 86-74 on the road in Air Canada Centre. Boston now has a record of 14-12 which puts them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and in second place the Atlantic Division behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors now have a 9-19 record, which puts them in 11th place in the conference and in fourth place in the Atlantic.

The Celtics were led by forward Kevin Garnett, who scored 17 points in Toronto. Paul Pierce added 12 points, Brandon Bass scored 10 and Mickael Pietrus came off the bench to add 11. The Raptors were led by shooting guard DeMar DeRozen, who scored 21 points at home against the Celtics. Jose Calderon scored 17, James Johnson scored 14, Amir Johnson scored 12 and Linas Kleiza came off the bench to add nine.

The Celtic will have a shot at rebounding and avoid losing three games in a row on Sunday afternoon when they host the top-ranked Eastern Conference team, the Chicago Bulls, in TD Garden at 3:30 p.m. (ET). The Raptors stay home and will look their second game in a row on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers at 1 p.m. (ET).

For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog, and for updates on the Raptors, go to Raptors HQ.

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Celtics vs. Raptors: Toronto Leads Boston, 41-34, At Halftime

After two quarters of play, the Boston Celtics trail the Toronto Raptors by a score of 41-34 on the road in Air Canada Centre. After the Celtics won five games in a row, they're now trying to avoid losing their second straight game after losing to the Lakers by one point in overtime on Thursday. They came into the game with a 14-11 game which puts them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and in second place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, the Raptors are looking to avoid losing their fourth game in a row. They have a record of 8-19 and are in 12th place in the conference and last place in the Atlantic.

The Celtics were led by forward Paul Pierce, who scored eight points in the first half. Brandon Bass scored six points and Kevin Garnett scored four points while Mickael Pietrus came off the bench to score five. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan, who scored 13 points in the first half, and Jose Calderon, who scored 10. James Johnson scored eight points while Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to add seven points.

For updates throughout the second half, check the Celtics out at Celtics Blog, and for updates on the Raptors, go to Raptors HQ.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Previewing Friday Night's Game With Raptors HQ

Raptors HQ, the official Toronto Raptors blog on the SB Nation network, took some time to answer out questions about tonight's game agains the Boston Celtics at 7:00 p.m. EDT at the Air Canada Centre. Questions in bold, answers below.

Toronto and Boston aren't exactly two teams on similar tracks. The Celtics have been rolling as of late, winning nine of their last 11 games. Meanwhile, the Raptors have only won one game out of five in the month of February and are fourth in the Atlantic Division. What exactly has led to the Raptors' struggles this season, and is there any hope for fans this season of a recovery?

RHQ: There's really one reason the Raptors have struggled so far this season; lack of talent. On nearly any given night, the Raptors simply aren't fielding as talented a group of players as their opponents, and over a large sample size, that becomes apparent. Of course compounding things is the absence of Andrea. He was dynamite early on and the argument could be made that with him, the Raps would be floating around the 8th spot in the East. But unfortunately that's more of an indictment of how bad the lower tiers of the East are, rather than a validation of Toronto's upside.

Is there any hope? Let's hope not. While I'm not a proponent of out and out tanking, the bottom line is that this team needs a lot more blue chip talent, and the best way to get it is via the draft. So while a sprinkling of hard-fought, quality wins would be great, I think the bulk of the fanbase is dreaming of a June in which the team has its pick of the Anthony Davis and Harrison Barneses.

Andrea Bargnani's absence is obviously a major setback for Toronto. What's the status on Bargnani, how soon may he return and how effective do you expect him to be?

RHQ: Yesterday the news came out that he won't be back until after the All-Star break. Minus the break we might have seen him sooner but this just makes sense. In a season that's really about incremental improvements from individuals, and not a team trying to compete for a playoff spot, no sense rushing him back.

As for his effectiveness upon his return? I have no idea. Seriously. This "All-Star Bargnani" that we saw pre-injury is completely mind-boggling considering he had essentially not improved his game in his first five years. It's VERY rare to see an NBA player, even a "big man," to develop this much this late, so we'll see if he regresses to his inefficient, jump-shooting, non-rebounding, defensively inept previous self or if he maintains his 2011-12 season play.

Dwane Casey said that Bargnani is an All-Star in his book. Had he remained healthy, he may have been an NBA All-Star, too. Do you think Bargnani would have been selected to the All-Star game this season based on what you saw before the injury, and is he a bona fide star in this league?

RHQ: See previous answer as again ha ha...I have no idea. I do think he was playing at near an All-Star level, but I'd need a bigger sample size to say he was a lock. After five years of frustration, I'm admittedly leery to say that he's a future star in the league, and lock for future All-Star games based on 13 games.

But that shouldn't take away from the level he was playing on during those 13 games as yes, he was a revelation and match-up nightmare. The key now is to see him play like that over an entire season.

Ed Davis is a player that has always piqued my interest. He appears to be an effective option in the post. Outside of Bargnani, do you believe that Davis has the most potential to be an impact player down the road?

RHQ: I do. As most of our readers know, I've never been bullish on DeRozan, but I do think Ed could be a stud in the league. He's got a tremendous basketball IQ, has a nose for the ball, and is a terrific offensive rebounder and shot blocker. However he's got a ways to go in terms of putting it all together. You can tell at times that his natural instincts have him in the right place at the right time, but he doesn't always know what to do after that, so hopefully with more playing time and instruction, that part will come.

He also needs some work on his shot. Anything outside of about...oh...4 feet. 46% shooting (his current FG%) ain't so good for a big man.

Prediction time. Can the Raptors take advantage of their rest and the Celtics' back-to-back struggles to steal a win tonight?

RHQ: No. Ok, that might be a bit harsh but we all remember what happened last time these clubs met. Without Andrea the Raptors really struggle to score against solid defensive teams as they're essentially a team of jump shooters who can't hit jump shots.

No, not a good combination.

If Jerryd Bayless can't go (ankle injury) things look even more bleak so unless DeMar DeRozan decides to morph into the player management compared him to last year, Kobe Bryant!!, this is going to be another L for the Raps.



For more Celtics and Raptors coverage, visit our team blogs, CelticsBlog and RaptorsHQ.

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Celtics Schedule 2012: C's Look To Bounce Back From Lakers Loss

Following Thursday night's overtime loss to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics will look to get back on track this weekend when they travel to Toronto to face Raptors Friday night and host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to their loss to the Lakers the Celtics had won five consecutive games and nine of their last 10. Now that they're completely healthy for the most part the C's have been able to gradually gain ground on the division-leading Philadelphia 76ers. Despite their recent winning streak, the C's still trail the Sixers by 3.5 games in the Atlantic.

Following Sunday's game against the Bulls, the Celtics will play a tough five game stretch before the All-Star break. They'll host the Pistons before beginning a four-game road trip against the Bulls, Pistons, Mavericks and Thunder. The trip includes two back-to-backs.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Boston Tries To Get Back On Track In Toronto

Rest has eluded the Boston Celtics, who take to the court against the Toronto Raptors at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Friday night in Ontario less than 24 hours after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime in Boston (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).

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