The Boston Celtics have responded strongly to their recent losses. A matchup with the Toronto Raptors could help them continue that trend.
After having their longest winning streak of the season snapped, the Celtics will try to add to their dominance of the struggling Raptors on Friday night at Air Canada Centre.
Boston (14-11) won four in a row following a 79-71 loss to Phoenix on Jan. 20, then posted a season-high five straight victories after an 88-87 defeat against Cleveland on Jan. 29.
The Celtics had a chance to extend that run to six Thursday, but fell 88-87 in overtime to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers after missing their final four shots in the extra session.
"I thought this was an awful game," coach Doc Rivers said after his club shot 39.2 percent. "If we had won, it would have been an awful game that we won. Give them credit: A lot of that was defense. But I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted."
With 22 points, Ray Allen topped 20 for only the second time in his last 14 games for Boston. He's scored a total of 18 in the first two games of the season series with Toronto, but the Celtics haven't needed him to do any more as they've prevailed by a combined 59 points.
The most recent of those wins was a 100-64 rout at TD Garden on Feb. 1 that was the Raptors' most lopsided defeat thus far in 2011-12.
"They've been beating us since the preseason so it's getting old. They're not just beating us but beating us bad. It's time for us to buckle down," Toronto forward James Johnson said. "We definitely need to come out flying and treat this game like it's Game 7. We can't go out like we've been going out against Boston."
Toronto, which has dropped 17 of its last 19 meetings with the Celtics, doesn't appear poised to end those struggles. The Raptors (8-19) have lost three in row and five of six overall. They've also lost five of their last six at Air Canada Centre, while Boston has won a season-high three straight on the road.
Toronto led by a point with seven minutes remaining Wednesday against visiting Milwaukee but allowed the Bucks to take command with a 12-2 run en route to a 105-99 defeat. DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points for the second time in three games for the Raptors.
Starting guard Jerryd Bayless left Wednesday's game in the third quarter with a sore left ankle and did not return. His status is unknown for this contest.
Bayless had a team-best 14 points for the Raptors in last week's loss at Boston while Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 17. The Celtics' lone All-Star scored 30 the last time the Celtics visited Toronto, a 93-79 win Jan. 2, 2011.
Point guard Rajon Rondo sat out last week's rout of the Raptors due to a right wrist injury. He had his best scoring effort in four games since returning Thursday with 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
- Toronto Raptors
- Air Canada Centre