Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

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Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

TORONTO You don't build up the kind of Hall of Fame credentials that Kevin Garnett has without dominating a game or two along the way.
Even at 36, KG still has it in him to be the best player on the floor -- even if he's the oldest.
The Toronto Raptors found that out on Wednesday night as Garnett carried the Celtics to a 99-95 win.
It was his 12-foot fadeaway jumper with less than a minute to play that put the Celtics ahead 96-91 in what eventually turned out to be the game-winning basket.
But the Raptors weren't done.
After cutting Boston's lead to three points, Toronto forced Paul Pierce into a tough off-balance shot that rimmed out. In the scramble for the rebound, it eventually sailed out of bounds off of Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan with 18 seconds to play.
From there, Toronto intentionally fouled Jeff Green who made the second free throw with 17.6 seconds to play that gave the C's a 97-93 lead.
Rudy Gay had two shots around the basket -- both misses -- with the loose ball eventually being rebounded by Courtney Lee who was immediately fouled with 9.8 seconds to play.
Lee made both free throws to finally put the game away.
Boston (25-23) has now five straight, with Wednesday's victory being their first away from the TD Garden.
Garnett was indeed the one that led the way, but not too far behind him was Leandro Barbosa who had 14 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.
After falling behind by 10 points going into the fourth, the Celtics opened the quarter with a 7-0 spurt capped off by a 12-foot pull-up jumper by Jason Terry off a Jeff Green steal.
Toronto called a time-out, well aware that they were looking at yet another second-half collapse, which has been one of the constants with their team all season.
"We have to get better at finishing games off," Toronto big man Amir Johnson said prior to the game.
Toronto had a stretch earlier this year in which they led at the half in nine straight games, but came away losers six times.
Wednesday had the makings of another late-game collapse for the Raptors, and an impressive comeback for the Celtics.
An improbable over the shoulder shot by Garnett plus the free throw, tied the game at 79.
But the Raptors were not willing to concede this one, as they continued to make the most of Boston's mistakes.
After a lay-up by Kyle Lowry off a bad pass by Boston put the Raptors ahead 83-81, it was the Raptor's 26th point off of 13 Celtics turnovers.
After seemingly righting their ways in the second quarter, they reverted back to committing the many miscues that had them in a back-and-fourth tussle with the Raptors earlier in the game.
Specifically, their turnovers.
It wasn't so much that the Celtics had that many.
It's just that when they made a mistake, the Raptors quickly capitalized on it with points of their own.
And making matters worst, Garnett picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:48 to play in the third quarter which immediately sent him to the bench.
Garnett on the sideline is never a good look for the Celtics, especially on a night like Wednesday when he was scoring the ball with such ease.
While his departure was relatively close to when he usually sits, his absence and the absence of anyone filling his void, was apparent.
Within a couple of minutes, Boston saw itself looking up to a 69-65 deficit following a dunk by Andrea Bargnani.
But the Celtics dealt with that adversity in the same manner they have done of late -- deal with it, and after that, get the win.

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.

Blakely: Pelicans form arguably the best frontcourt with Cousins-Davis

Blakely: Pelicans form arguably the best frontcourt with Cousins-Davis

A. Sherrod Blakely breaks down the DeMarcus Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans