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Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Celtics 100, Raptors 64

By Chris Forsberg

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics captain Paul Pierce drives on Toronto's James Johnson.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 100-64 Wednesday night at TD Garden:

In less than 26 minutes of court time, Celtics captain Paul Pierce filled up his stat line (17 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, steal, block, +28 in plus/minus) helping to turn this one into a laugher with no signs of a Cleveland-like comeback. The Celtics led by 13 after one quarter, 22 at the intermission, and 28 entering the final frame. The best number in Kevin Garnett's stat line: a mere 16:52 of court time (chipping in 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks during that span). Avery Bradley (11 points on 5-of-6 shooting) and Ray Allen (12 points on 5-of-9 shooting) joined Pierce in the starters' double-digit party. Jerryd Bayless scored a team-high 14 points off the bench for the Raptors.

Brandon Bass might not have been the first big off the bench (Chris Wilcox came in early relief after Jermaine O'Neal got two quick fouls), but he continues to provide the reserve spark, hitting all three shots he attempted in six minutes, chipping in eight first-quarter points as the Celtics opened that 13-point lead (29-16) after one frame. Pierce aided the strong start, chipping in seven points, four assists, and three rebounds while playing the entire frame. Boston shot 60 percent (12 of 20 overall) during the first quarter (and 62.2 percent in the first half).

... it's going to be a long night for the opposition. Garnett was a couple steps behind the stripe when he splashed a 25-foot triple to end the first half. It was his first 3-pointer of the year and fifth in the Big Three era. What's easy to forget is that Garnett used to go to that weapon more often, hoisting 596 triples for his career (making 168, including a career-high 37 in 2001-02).

Garnett grooved with his favorite American Bandstand dancer as Gino Time rolled with Boston out front 89-58 with 4:43 to play. As play resumed on the court, the JumboTron displayed a shot of Garnett shaking his hips with a wide grin as he watched the video from a few steps in front of the Boston bench.

With such a lopsided lead -- and no signs of a let-up -- the Celtics were able to give young players like rookie first-round pick JaJuan Johnson extended action. Johnson played nearly the entire fourth quarter, chipping in 11 points while hitting all five shots he attempted. Greg Stiemsma (7 minutes) and E'Twaun Moore (21:32) got quality time as well.

That's how you take care of a 22-point lead. Even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics came out with excellent energy and ran Toronto out of the gym early. The starters enjoyed low minutes, while the younger players got extended burn. It's exactly the type of night the Celtics need more of during this condensed season. The Celtics have now won seven of their last nine and jump above. 500 at 11-10. The New York Knicks visit Friday as the Celtics continue a five-game homestand and Boston will be looking for revenge after a Christmas Day loss in New York.