Rapid reaction: Celtics 107, Raptors 89
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-89 on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rajon Rondo, back after a one-game absence due to a sprained right ankle, had 20 assists -- the sixth time he's reached that number in his career and the second time this season -- while adding six points in 32 minutes. Rookie Jared Sullinger registered his first career double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) to spark a reserve group that helped Boston pull away late in the third quarter. Kevin Garnett added 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting over a mere 17 minutes, while Jason Terry scored a team-high 20 points -- hitting four 3-pointers -- in a starting role.
The Celtics, having all but kicked away a 16-point first-half lead, were up only four with under three minutes to play in the third quarter but closed the frame on a 13-2 run to carry a 79-64 lead into the final frame. Terry hit a pair of 3-pointers, while Chris Wilcox (alley-oop from Rondo), Sullinger (strong drive) and Jeff Green (22-foot jumper) added buckets, feasting on three Toronto turnovers.
FEELING JUST FINE
Rondo displayed no ill effects from the sprained right ankle that kept him out of Thursday's game in Brooklyn. During his first shift, Rondo handed out seven assists while making both shots he took as the Celtics opened a 24-12 lead over 9:41. Rondo prolonged his double-digit assist streak when he fed Terry with 2:51 remaining in the first half. Rondo now has 33 straight games with 10-plus assists, and he's chasing John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46).
LOOSE BALLS: COLLINS MISSES GAME
Jason Collins missed the game due to a death in the family and was not with the team. ... Avery Bradley dressed and sat on the bench, but he is still projected to be another month away from his return as he has not been cleared for contact activities while rehabbing from double shoulder surgery.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (6-4) were overdue for a breezy night and able to lean hard on their reserves after breaking the game open late in the third quarter. That's a nice luxury when you're in the middle of a four-games-in-five-night stretch, including the front end of a back-to-back. (Boston travels to Detroit on Sunday night.) Paul Pierce (25 minutes) and Garnett (17) enjoyed easy nights, which got better for Garnett with the return of Gino Time when the Garden's favorite "American Bandstand" dancer grooved with Boston up 103-83 with 2:52 to play.
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