Toronto (0-8) at Boston (3-5)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Nov 18, 2005
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The Boston Celtics, trying to avoid a season-high third straight loss, hope to avoid being the first team to lose to the Toronto Raptors as the struggling squads meet at the TD Banknorth Garden.

After losing 115-100 at Detroit on Tuesday, the Celtics were defeated at home 113-100 by the Seattle SuperSonics on Wednesday. Paul Pierce had 22 points and Ricky Davis added 21 for Boston.

The Celtics are scoring about 98 points per game, but giving up an average of 100. They’re 0-4 this season when allowing more than 100 points, 3-1 when they don’t.

“Our problem is not offense,” said Pierce, who leads the Celtics with 25.4 points per game. “We need to pick things up on defense and start trusting one another more. We are desperate for a win.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers recognizes his team is shooting well, but knows improving defensively is what will bring more victories.

“What’s embarrassing to me is that we shot 52 percent (Wednesday) and 55 percent (Tuesday) and have two losses,” Rivers said.

One of the league’s few teams that gives up more points is Toronto, allowing an Eastern Conference-high 109.1 per game.

The Raptors were swept in their home-and-home series with the Philadelphia 76ers, capped by a 121-115 loss at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday despite a career-high 38 points from Mike James.

Toronto is 0-8 for the first time in the franchise’s 11-year history and its schedule doesn’t seem to get easier. After visiting Boston, where they have lost their last five games, the Raptors host Miami on Sunday before heading west for a four-game trip.

“People need to understand these guys want to win. They understand that we’re 0-8 and they want to win,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “But the last two games and basically the whole year we’ve just gotten off to horrendous starts.”

Raptors rookie Charlie Villanueva, averaging 22 points in his last three games, agrees.

“We need to throw the first punch instead of letting teams throw the first punch,” he said.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 17): Raptors - 5th place, 5 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Celtics - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Raptors - F Morris Peterson, F Chris Bosh, C Aaron Williams, G Jalen Rose, G James. Celtics - F Pierce, F Raef LaFrentz, C Mark Blount, G Delonte West, G Davis.

TEAM LEADERS: Raptors - Bosh, 18.3 ppg and 11.1 rpg; Jose Calderon, 6.7 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 25.4 ppg and 7.6 rpg; Davis, 6.0 apg.

2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: April 17, 2005; Celtics, 103-98. At Toronto, Pierce had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead Boston.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Raptors - 0-2 on the road. Celtics - 3-3 at home.

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