Boston (12-2) at Toronto (6-6)

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  • Game info: 12:30 pm EST Sun Nov 23, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kevin Garnett got a hero’s welcome at his old stomping grounds and the Boston Celtics got an easy victory in their most recent game.

The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, got burned by their own former player’s return - and may have lost one of their current stars in the process.

Both teams will try to move on when they meet for a Sunday matinee in Toronto, although the Raptors may have to play without Jermaine O’Neal as they look to end Boston’s four-game winning streak.

Garnett was injured when the Celtics visited Minnesota last season, so Friday’s game marked the first time he suited up in the city where he spent his first 12 NBA seasons before the Timberwolves traded him to Boston in July 2007.

The former league MVP received a standing ovation, then scored 17 points while shooting 8-of-12 from the field in the Celtics’ 95-78 victory.

“It’s always good to go somewhere and feel the love in the building,” Garnett said. “It’s even better to win in the place I used to play. It was a good feeling. There was a lot of great energy in the building. I was just blessed that the people came out.”

Boston (12-2) outscored Minnesota 35-10 in the third quarter before cruising to its fourth straight victory and 10th in 11 games. The reigning NBA champions held the Wolves to 31.3 percent shooting - the seventh time this season a Boston opponent shot worse than 40 percent from the field.

The Raptors (6-6), meanwhile, had no answer defensively for Vince Carter on Friday night, as the former Toronto star scored 39 points to guide the New Jersey Nets to a 129-127 overtime win at the Air Canada Centre.

In contrast to the cheers for Garnett, Carter was again booed in Toronto after spending six-plus rocky seasons with the Raptors from 1998-2004, but he scored 12 straight points for the Nets late to force overtime. New Jersey erased an 18-point third-quarter deficit to drop Toronto to 2-3 this season at home.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m so upset,” said Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds. “It’s unbelievable. We were winning, we had the game under control, we made a couple of stupid mistakes.”

After a slow start, Bargnani has emerged in the last two games, averaging 27.0 points and shooting 8-of-14 from 3-point range.

Against New Jersey, Chris Bosh scored 42 points and Jose Calderon added 26 and 15 assists, but Toronto struggled defensively, forcing only seven turnovers and allowing the Nets to shoot 51.5 percent from the field.

Even worse, O’Neal strained his surgically repaired left knee when he was fouled early in the fourth quarter. He didn’t practice on Saturday, but tests showed no structural damage and he could play in Sunday’s contest.

O’Neal missed 40 games last season for Indiana due to problems with the knee.

“We’ve already made contingency plans if he can’t go,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.

It may be tough enough even with him against the Celtics, who won three out of four against Toronto last season, including both trips north of the border.

The Raptors also lost 94-87 in Boston on Nov. 10, when Paul Pierce scored a season-high 36 points.

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Sunday, Nov 23