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Celtics 99, Raptors 95

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Kevin Garnett scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Boston Celtics overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Toronto Raptors 99-95 Wednesday before a crowd of 17,1763 at Air Canada Centre.

Garnett scored 11 of his points and had four rebounds in the fourth quarter. The Celtics (25-23) improved to 5-0 since star point guard Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Courtney Lee added 15 points for the Celtics, and former Raptor Leandro Barbosa came off the Boston bench to score 14. Paul Pierce had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, Avery Bradley had 11 points and Brandon Bass scored 10.

Rudy Gay led Toronto (17-32) with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Amir Johnson had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Lowry had 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. DeMar DeRozan scored 13, as did Andrea Bargnani, who played 22 minutes in his first game since injuring his right elbow in December.

Garnett's 12-foot, turnaround, fadeaway jumper with 46.9 seconds left gave the Celtics a 96-91 lead, but Gay made a layup to bring Toronto to within three with 42.3 seconds left.

Jeff Green made one of two free throws with 17.6 seconds remaining to increase Boston's lead to 97-93. Gay missed a layup, and the Celtics grabbed the rebound. After the Raptors fouled, Lee made both free throws to put the game away.

Toronto's 10-point lead after three quarters vanished when the Celtics scored the first 10 points of the fourth. After the Raptors regained the lead at 85-81, the Celtics again came back and led by three with 4:26 to play after Pierce hit two free throws on Johnson's fourth foul. Garnett's layup increased the lead to five. Johnson reduced the lead to three with 3:12 left, but Garnett's jumper put Boston up by five again. Johnson's turnaround hook cut the lead to three, but Barbosa restored the Celtics' advantage to five.

The Celtics took a five-point lead into the second half, but the Raptors moved ahead 60-59 when Aaron Gray hit both free throws after Garnett picked up his fourth foul of the game. Lowry grabbed a rebound and fed Bargnani, who made a running dunk with 4:03 to play in the third, bumping the Raptors' lead to 69-65. In the final minute of the quarter, Gay hit a 3-pointer and DeRozan made a layup and the ensuing free throw to give Toronto a 79-69 lead.

Pierce, who did not score until he made two free throws with 7:07 left in the half, hit a 3-pointer with 2:54 to play in the second quarter to put the Celtics into a 42-39 lead. He hit another 3-pointer for a 47-41 lead with 1:45 to play. Boston led 50-45 at the half, shooting 54 percent from the field compared to Toronto's 43 percent.

Gay scored eight points to lead the Raptors to a 23-20 lead after the first quarter. Bargnani entered the game with 4:20 to play in the first, replacing center Aaron Gray. He led the Raptors in the first half with 11 points.

NOTES: Bargnani missed 26 games with a torn right elbow ligament and a strained right wrist. Toronto coach Dwane Casey said he was not sure how much Bargnani would play in his first games back. "We don't want him to get outside of his rhythm," Casey said before the game. ... Raptors forward Linas Kleiza (right knee) is still out, and forward Landry Fields (acute back spasms) missed his second successive game. ... Second-year Boston guard Bradley has played well since Rondo's injury. "He's doing great," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "He's not doing much different. We just asked him to be the defensive player he is." ... The Raptors visit the Indiana Pacers on Friday. ... The Celtics are home to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. ... The Celtics are 5-6 in the second game of back-to-back games so far this season.
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