BOSTON – The wins just keep on coming for the Boston Celtics who survived the closest of close calls on Sunday, but still managed to cling to a 95-94 win.
DeMar DeRozan had a chance to give Toronto the victory. But Jaylen Brown’s defense was good enough to force a miss.
However, the loose ball wound up in Serge Ibaka’s hands briefly but he was unable to get his shot attempt to go in as the final horn sounded and the Celtics once again found a way to win.
Boston (12-2) has now won 12 in a row and remain the team to beat in not just the Eastern Conference … but the NBA.
Al Horford, returning to the lineup after missing two games while in the NBA’s concussion protocol program, had a strong game offensively with a team-high 21 points.
Brown (18 points) and Terry Rozier (16 points) off the bench also had big games for Boston.
As for the Raptors (7-5), DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had 24 and 19 points, respectively.
Boston spent a good chunk of the game playing from behind, but seemed to have found its stride when in the third quarter.
In the third, Boston went on a 20-6 run to lead 71-63 after a Brown 3-pointer.
The Raptors called a timeout which did them a world of good as they responded with a 10-2 spurt of their own to tie the game at 73-all with 1:44 to play in the quarter.
Toronto went ahead 76-74 late in the third, only for Rozier to have another late in the quarter 3-pointer which put Boston ahead 77-76.
The first half was one in which the Celtics would rally, make it a one-possession game only for the Raptors to go on a mini-run to keep just enough distance between themselves and the Celtics to maintain a steady amount of control.
Toronto had the game well in hand going into the half.
That is, until Rozier hit a step-back 3-pointer similar to the slide-to-the-left, step-back 3-pointer that Kyrie Irving at times will take to create space.
Rozier was fouled, and the 4-point play cut Toronto’s lead to 49-44 at the half.
Irving (minor facial fracture) did not play, with his return to the lineup very much up in the air.