BOSTON – This has been a charmed run that the Boston Celtics are on, the kind of run where victories almost seem like an act of destiny in how improbable they come about.
Take Sunday’s 95-94 win over the Toronto Raptors which extended Boston’s winning streak to 12 in a row.
The Raptors had a chance to win the game with DeMar DeRozan, being defended by Jaylen Brown at the time, used his dribble to create enough space to get off the shot that he wanted.
It came up short.
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The missed shot came right into the hands of Serge Ibaka who, for whatever reason, could not corral the loose ball and put it back up.
DeRozan described the shot as a “great look” before adding, “I make that in my sleep. Felt good, I thought it was going to roll in but it didn’t.”
Said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey: “I thought it was a great look, he shook him, he was wide open, vaulted up, and I’ll take that shot 999 times out of 1000. Came up short on it, he got to where he wanted to go with the basketball, we got him open, play was well executed by everybody; guy just missed a shot. I’ll take that shot all day, our best player taking the shot he wants at the right time.”
While DeRozan did create enough space to get the shot off, it was still well-defended by Jaylen Brown whose defense forced DeRozan to miss a number of shots on Sunday.
Brown is used to tough defensive assignments, but is quick to mention DeRozan being an extremely challenging scorer to contain.
“Easier said than done,” Brown said. “He’ll pump-fake and pump-fake until he gets you off your feet. I’m thinking like, ‘he’s gotta be shooting one of these (expletive). But he’ll keep pump-faking and pump-faking. You have to do a good enough job of staying down.”
And in doing so, Brown’s defense lifted the Celtics up to yet another victory.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 95-94 win over Toronto which extended the Celtics winning streak which now stands at 12.
Easily the star of the game, Horford returned to the lineup after missing the last two games while being in the league’s concussion protocol program. He led the Celtics with 21 points on an extremely efficient 8-for-9 shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Even though he missed the potential game-winner for Toronto, DeRozan was once again Toronto’s best option offensively. He led all scorers with 24 points but did so on 8-for-22 shooting.
Big shots at the end of the second and third quarters were just part of a special game for Rozier. He finished with 16 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and one steal.
His play at both ends of the floor really set the tone for the Celtics, showing a high level of aggression scoring the ball as well as defending DeRozan. He tallied 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting to go with three assists and two steals.
Had a strong first half but really tailed off in the second which is when he scored just five of his 19 points. Lowry also had seven assists and a steal.
The 6-foot-8 rookie continues to play at a level that’s way, way ahead of where someone so young be at right now in their NBA development. He had 13 points but did most of his work in the fourth quarter which is when he tallied six points along with five of his seven rebounds for the game.
Other than the insane ankle-breaking move that Shane Larkin put on him, Miles had a pretty good game for the Raptors. He had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with a plus/minus of +17.
Coming off a season-high 16 points in Boston’s win over Charlotte on Friday, Larkin could not deliver anything even close to what he did on that night. Against the Raptors, he was scoreless while missing all six of his shot attempts.