Carter led a rousing third-quarter run with a pair of key blocks and got significant help on the offensive end as the Toronto Raptors held off Walker and the Boston Celtics, 104-92, for a split of the home-and-home series.
After spraining his right ankle in the first quarter, Carter took over defensively in the third, coming up with blocks on Mark Blount and Walker. The Raptors turned both into baskets for a 71-61 lead with 3:09 left in the period.
“Just trying to give some help,” said Carter, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. “They were doing a tremendous job of scoring in the post, with Walker especially. I was just trying to time it to get a hand in the way.”
With Antonio Davis scoring 16 of his 19 points in the third quarter, the Raptors built an 82-68 cushion, finishing the period with a 20-7 run. The lead grew to 90-74 before Boston rallied.
Walker scored 10 of his season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Celtics close to 92-88 with 4:38 remaining. But he lost his cool after being called for a key foul on an offensive rebound in the final two minutes.
“It was in the heat of battle,” said Walker, who picked up the slack for injured teammate Paul Pierce. “You want to win. Some plays happen. Obviously, you want things to go your way.”
After being called for his league-leading 20th technical foul, Walker picked up another with just under a minute remaining and the game out of reach, taunting Davis.
“He just made the comment that we were going to be gone on April 16,” Davis said. “I just kind of chuckled and the ref stepped in and said, ‘You’re gone, right now,’ and just kicked him out.
“I thought it was funny, the refs don’t normally do that. In this case, he kind of stepped in and stood up for us.”
The Raptors need the help. They began the day with the third-worst record in the league at 17-38 before rebounding from Friday’s 90-85 loss in Boston.
“Well, we turned our defense up and our rotation was really, really starting to get better and better, and we took the inside away from them a little bit,” Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said.
The Raptors also dominated the boards, holding a 47-32 advantage to help overcome 23 turnovers. Michael Bradley led the way with 13 rebounds off the bench and Jerome Williams chipped in nine.
Toronto also shot 52 percent (38-of-73) from the field, hitting half its 16 3-pointers. Lenard and Morris Peterson both went 3-of-5 from the arc.
“When those two are together, you have two scoring threats out there, but it gives other guys a chance to step up and do things to try and help the team out, and we just didn’t do a good job of that tonight,” Delk said.
The Raptors used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to grab the lead for good at 60-55. Carter capped the burst with a dunk, having recovered from his latest injury, a sprained ankle.
“I stepped on the ref’s foot,” he said. “It wasn’t bad enough that I wasn’t going to play. I took some time out to let it settle down, tied my shoe tighter and came back in.”
Carter, who missed six weeks earlier this season with a knee injury and strained his neck in Friday’s loss in Boston, followed consecutive layups by Jerome Williams with two blocks in a three-possession span.
Walker capped a 14-2 run with a transition basket to get the Celtics within 92-88 with 4:38 remaining, but they did not score again until Eric Williams’ 3-pointer with 47 seconds left made it 102-91.
Carter’s teammates and Walker’s temper had taken over. Alvin Williams hit a jumper and turned a steal into a layup for a 96-88 lead with 2:42 to play. Carter then made free throws following technicals to Walker and Celtics coach Jim O’Brien.
“He’s a great player,” Bradley said of Walker. “But his emotions get the best of him sometimes.”