BOSTON (AP)—The old guys just didn’t forget.
Kevin Garnett(notes) had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Shaquille O’Neal(notes) added 16 points and nine boards, and the Boston Celtics avenged a loss to Toronto by beating the Raptors 110-101 on Friday night.
Still smarting after losing to Toronto five days ago, Boston pounded the ball inside to its aging, but very effective stars.
“Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts, and you knew it would be, if you know Kevin, because the last time we played them the guy in his position had a pretty good game,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s just Kevin Garnett.”
It was the Celtics’ third straight win after they lost consecutive games for the only time this season, the second coming at Toronto when Boston squandered a lead in the closing seconds of a 102-101 defeat on Sunday.
“Yeah, (Kevin and I) have this conversation all the time. The young guys can talk,” O’Neal said. “He was actually talking that he was a player.”
Glen “Big Baby” Davis had 10 of his 18 points in the final quarter for Boston. Paul Pierce(notes) finished with 18 points, Ray Allen(notes) 17 and Rajon Rondo(notes) collected 14 assists in his first game after missing three straight with a strained left hamstring.
Most of Rondo’s dazzling passes led to layups and dunks. Boston outscored the Raptors 64-44 in the paint.
“We watched the tape and understand what our advantage is, and that’s what we did,” Pierce said. “We knew we could attack the inside. We were able to go inside against these guys.”
Rondo paid immediate dividends, getting eight assists in the opening quarter.
Triano agreed that the Raptors’ youth was taught a lesson by Boston’s elder players.
“It’s part of the learning experience,” he said. “It was a tough learning experience for them.”
The Celtics had opened a 21-point edge early in the final quarter, but Toronto closed it to 99-93 on Kleiza’s basket with 5:20 to play. Davis then hit a shot for Boston and Garnett tipped in his own miss, pushing the Celtics back up by nine with 4 1/2 minutes left.
Pierce’s 3-pointer made it 105-95 with just under three minutes to play. The Celtics were never threatened the rest of the way.
Boston led 58-52 at halftime and opened its big lead in the third quarter. The Celtics had assists on all but one of their 22 baskets in the first half.
The Celtics, who shot 59 percent in the quarter, outscored Toronto 28-15, holding the Raptors to 15.8 percent from the floor (3 of 19).
After Calderon nailed a jumper for Toronto to start the third-quarter scoring, Boston had the next 11 points, with Garnett’s jam off Rondo’s alley-oop pass the highlight. Garnett also had a dunk in the spree.
The teams traded baskets before Boston took control by scoring 14 of the next 17 points. The Celtics led 86-67 entering the final 12 minutes, but the Raptors made their charge.
NOTES: Celtics G Nate Robinson(notes) was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul on Kleiza in the second quarter. … Rivers didn’t mind playing the Raptors again so quickly. In fact, he’d like to see teams play consecutive nights. “I thought it made the second game more competitive,” he said before the game. “I loved that fact. I wish we’d do it more often.” … Stojakovic played his second game with Toronto after being acquired from New Orleans on November 20. He had 13 points in 5-of-7 shooting. … Rondo got a big ovation when he came out of the locker room late for pregame warmups. … The Celtics wore their third jerseys that are dark green. … Patriots WR Deion Branch was seated courtside.