Celtics 124, Raptors 120

Preview | Box Score | Recap

TORONTO (AP)—The Toronto Raptors are out of the playoff hunt. The Boston Celtics are still clinging to thin postseason hopes.

Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak scored 22 points apiece to help the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 124-120 on Tuesday night.

“I don’t think you’re going to draw art from this game at all,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “It was not a beautiful game in any way.”

Morris Peterson had 32 points and eight rebounds to lead the Raptors (26-48), who lost their fifth straight game. Mike James added 25 points and Matt Bonner had 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

With eight games still to go in the regular season, the Raptors will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. They finished 33-49 last season.

“It seems like tonight was the same story, different day,” Peterson said. “We had the lead down the stretch, we didn’t win.”

Toronto led 109-102 with 3:59 left in the fourth before Boston went on a 9-0 run started when Szczerbiak converted a three-point play. Boston then hit seven straight free throws to take a 111-109 lead with 1:43 left.

After James tied the game, Boston scored the next six points to put the game away. Ryan Gomes had a layup and two free throws during that stretch.

“We can’t hang our heads and say this was a lost season,” Peterson said. “I think, if this team continues to grow and play with the core guys that we have, I think in the future we can definitely make the playoffs.”

Raef LaFrentz added 20 points for Boston (31-43), which is 10th in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in eighth and three behind Chicago.

Rookies Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham had 14 points apiece for Toronto, Graham fouling out late in the game.

“We foul too much,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. “How are you going to win the game?

“We haven’t committed one foul in practice. I referee every scrimmage, I call fouls, and they haven’t committed one foul in practice, but we commit them in the game.”

Despite missing star forward Chris Bosh, who may miss the rest of the season with a sprained thumb, the Raptors outrebounded the Celtics 42-38.

Peterson had 13 points in the first quarter and the Raptors went up by nine points. But Boston battled back with an 11-2 run and the game was tied 31-31 at the end of the quarter.

Bonner had 11 points and eight rebounds in the second quarter, but the Celtics shot 56 percent in the quarter and led 63-61 at halftime.

Boston stretched its lead to 83-72 midway through the third, the biggest lead of the game, but Toronto battled back outscoring the Celtics 19-6 to the end of the quarter, and led 90-89 heading into the fourth.

Notes

The Raptors signed guard Andre Barrett for the remainder of the season, and for 2006-07, although it’s not guaranteed. … The Raptors are at Indiana on Wednesday then play New Orleans before heading home to host Charlotte on Sunday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Boston
P. Pierce P. Pierce
2-10,  22 Pts
8 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Toronto
M. Peterson M. Peterson
11-27,  32 Pts
8 Rebs, 6 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists