NBA: Celtics kick on in third quarter, overtake Raptors
After a lackluster first half, the Boston Celtics used a strong performance on both ends of the floor in the third quarter to pick up a 116-110 road victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Boston erased a six-point halftime deficit by outscoring Toronto 35-18 in the third. The Celtics shot 12 of 21 from the floor in the period and led 91-80 entering the final 12 minutes.
Boston led by as many as 13 points in the third. The lead never fell below five points in the fourth.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum led all players with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics earned their second win in a row.
Tatum said the Celtics told themselves at halftime to “figure it out.”
“Second night of a back-to-back, against a team that plays really well at home,” he said. “We were just playing too slow. We were worried about the officiating too much, and we just wanted to change that.”
Tatum said it’s the kind of win the Celtics need if they’re to return to the NBA Finals and claim the title that eluded them against Golden State last season.
“When we put our minds to it, we can beat anybody,” he said.
Pascal Siakam scored a team-high 29 points for Toronto, which saw its home record fall to 9-3. Scottie Barnes added 21 points for the Raptors, who received 20 points off the bench from Gary Trent Jr.
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Celtics point guard Marcus Smart, who did not play in Boston’s Sunday victory over the Brooklyn Nets due to a hip contusion, returned to contribute 18 points and seven assists against Toronto. He made back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter, the second of which handed the Celtics an 82-76 lead with 4:06 left in the period.
It was the second game of a three-game homestand for Toronto. Boston, which was without Malcolm Brogdon (illness) and Al Horford (back), was on the second stop of a six-game road trip. The Raptors were missing Juancho Hernangomez (ankle).
Boston led 27-25 after one quarter, but Toronto opened up a 10-point lead — its largest lead of the game — on a Christian Koloko free throw that made it 49-39 with 5:35 remaining in the half. Toronto scored 37 points in the second quarter and held a 62-56 lead at halftime.
The Raptors were 14 of 20 from the free-throw line in the half while the Celtics were 6 of 9. Boston missed 14 of its 20 3-point attempts in the first half but finished 13 of 36 (36.1 percent) from behind the arc. Toronto wound up 10 of 28 (35.7 percent) from long range.
Boston has won 16 of its past 18 games.