Boston (24-36) at Toronto (25-33)

Light Rain Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Feb 29, 2004
  • TV: FSNE
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Toronto Raptors helped the Boston Celtics end a seven-game losing streak Friday. Now, they’d like to put a stop to an eight-game skid of their own as they host Boston in the back end of a home-and-home series at the Air Canada Centre.

“It was just great to get a win,” Celtics interim coach John Carroll said following the Celtics’ 88-75 victory over the Raptors on Friday night. “We played a great first half and did a lot of good things.”

The Raptors, who have slipped to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, never rebounded from a nearly three-minute scoring drought in the first period as the Celtics raced to a 30-18 lead.

“We won 50 games the last two years when I was in Detroit, but we had streaks of eight or nine losses,” said Raptors forward Michael Curry. “It happens. You have to weather the storm.”

Toronto could get a boost with the return of Vince Carter, who has been on the injured list the past five games with a moderate left ankle sprain. He is eligible to return Sunday.

Paul Pierce scored 21 points and Brandon Hunter had 11 points and 16 rebounds in his second career start Friday.

“He’s been phenomenal the last two games,” Pierce said of Hunter. “He’s helping us out in an area we’ve struggled in all season long.”

The seven-game losing streak was the Celtics’ longest since they dropped 10 in a row from March 20 to April 7, 2000.

“I didn’t feel anything positive went on out there tonight,” Raptors coach Kevin O’Neill said. “That was not warm and fuzzy, that’s for sure.”

Mark Blount had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, and Jiri Welsch added 11 points.

Donyell Marshall recorded his 25th double-double of the season, with 19 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto. Lamond Murray added 10 points.

Carroll said he talked to his good friend O’Neill earlier in the week.

“Misery loves company,” Carroll said of the phone call. “I figured if I talked to Kevin about it, at least my wife wouldn’t have to hear about it when I got home.”

STANDINGS (through Feb. 27): Celtics - 4th place (tied), 13 GB, Atlantic Division. Raptors - 5th place, 17 GB, Central Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Celtics - F Hunter, F Welsch, C Blount, G Pierce, G Chucky Atkins. Raptors - F Marshall, F Morris Peterson, C Chris Bosh, G Roger Mason, G Milt Palacio.

TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 22.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 5.1 apg. Raptors - Carter, 21.2 ppg; Marshall, 9.5 rpg; Carter and Rose, 4.7 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 27; Celtics, 88-75. At Boston,

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 12-18 on the road; Raptors - 14-14 at home.

INJURIES: Celtics - F-C Raef LaFrentz (knee). Raptors - G-F Carter (ankle); G Rose (hand); F Lonny Baxter (knee); F Robert Archibald (flu).

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Team Stat Leaders

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