Celtics over Raptors from start to finish, 81-73

Celtics over Raptors from start to finish, 81-73
December 22, 2011, 3:11 am
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BOSTON -- With just four days before their regular season opener in New York City, the Boston Celtics made the most of their final preseason game with a 81-73 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Paul Pierce (right heel) did not play and Sasha Pavlovic got the start in his place.

Rajon Rondo, often criticized for his offensive game, had the hot hand in the first quarter. He scored 10 points in eight minutes, shooting 4-for-5 from the field and making a pair of free throws. The Cs led 22-13 after the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics got a good look at Greg Steimsma in the second quarter. The big man played all but 20 seconds, scoring seven points and making hustle plays. DeMar DeRozan scored half of the Raptors 18 second-quarter points, but his efforts were not enough to get his team back in it. At halftime, the Celtics held a 47-31 lead.

But with the starters on the bench, the Celtics reserves struggled to stay consistent in the third quarter. The Raptors outscored the Cs, 22-20.

When it came down to the final quarter, a young Celtics group held off for the win. Avery Bradley, ETwaun Moore, Gilbert Brown, JaJuan Johnson, Jamal Sampson, and Steimsma all saw playing time, while veteran journeyman Michael Sweetney scored a crowd-pleasing basket.

Andrea Bargnani led all players with 20 points (7-17 FG, 68 FT) while Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points (6-10 FG, 5-6 FT) and six assists. Brandon Bass and Moore combined for 23 points off the bench.

The Celtics finished preseason action 2-0 with both wins coming against the Raptors. They will face the Knicks on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden.