TORONTO – Misery continues for the Toronto Raptors.
Jaylen Brown scored 27 points to lift the Boston Celtics to a 106-104 win over the Raptors for a ninth straight win.
Pascal Siakam has 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raptors (20-27), who lost their third consecutive and third consecutive loss to a team understaffed. Gary Trent Jr. had 22 points, while Precious Achiuwa finished with 17 points and 11 goals and Scottie Barnes had 10.
The Celtics lead the East (35-12) missing top scorer Jayson Tatum (left wrist).
The Raptors also lack all-star guard Fred VanVleet, who suffered a late scratch from right rib pain. OG Anunoby had 12 points before leaving the game three and a half minutes into the fourth round after getting his foot stuck. Initially, the Raptors said he was ready to return, but medical staff advised against doing so.
The Raptors’ two previous losses were against short-hands: Tuesday’s 130-122 loss to the Milwaukee minus superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, and then Thursday’s 128-126 loss to the Timberwolves without Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, and had played at high altitude in Denver the night before.
The Celtics also lost both Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams (knee overstretched) in the first half on Saturday. Smart, who had two points and four assists, rolled into his ankle and made a cut, and immediately signaled for medical help when he fell, pointing at his feet.
Aside from an early 11-point lead for Toronto, the game was a tight back-and-forth. The Raptors opened the fourth inning with a four-point lead, but Payton Pritchard’s third treble in the final bracket opened an eight-point lead for Boston with 5:53 to play.
The Scotiabank Arena crowd erupted as Trent’s treble, his second throw in a minute and a half, ended the game 103-103 with a score of 2:23. But Pritchard responded with his fourth-long bombshell to return Boston to the top spot. A free throw from Siakam turned the game into two points and then, with the crowd standing strong, Trent shot but snatched the ball from Pritchard with 14.1 seconds left.
The frantic final few seconds saw Raptors coach Nick Nurse furious on a ball-jumping call with 8.6 seconds to play. Toronto won possession with 3.1 seconds left, but Siakam let the ball go, much to the displeasure of the home team.
Thad Young’s hook shot past the Raptors’ 15-4 lap, giving Toronto an 11-point lead with 2:30 remaining in the first half. But the Celtics responded with a 12-2 run to pull up in the 27-26 round to head into the second half.
The second half saw the lead change hands eight times, before being trailed 9-0 by Toronto at the end of the half. The Raptors entered the first half with a score of 57-50.
A pair of Brogdon’s three consecutive points cut Toronto’s advantage to just one point with 2:04 remaining in the third inning. The Raptors led 85-81 in the fourth inning.
The Raptors are without rookie striker Christian Koloko, who was assigned to their G League branch for the first time as the Raptors 905.
“We’re going to try to get him down there, give him more minutes, more times,” the nurse said. “Hopefully they’ll pass the ball to him a little bit so he can make some efforts, regain confidence.”
Koloko’s 905 premiere will take place Sunday at the Wisconsin Herd.
“I’d say (Koloko) will probably run back and forth right now, but lean more towards that, but with us when the schedule allows,” Nurse said.
The Raptors host RJ Barrett of Canada and the New York Knicks on Sunday. The Raptors beat the Knicks in a 123-121 thriller on Monday in New York. The Raptors then embark on a seven-game season-long trip that begins Wednesday in Sacramento.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 21, 2023.
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