Celtics clinch Atlantic title
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Paul Pierce scored 25 points, grabbed 11
rebounds and dished out five assists as Boston clinched the Atlantic Division
title and defeated Toronto, 103-98, at Air Canada Centre.
Raef LaFrentz contributed 18 points and six rebounds for Boston, which has won
four straight and six of seven. Gary Payton netted 14 points and had seven
assists while Ricky Davis chipped in 13 points for the Celtics, who won the
division title for the first time since 1991-92.
“It was a great win for us, obviously for a lot of reason,” Boston head coach
Doc Rivers said. “You know winning the division the right way. That’s the way
I termed it before the game, not backing into it, winning it.”
Jalen Rose led all scorers with 31 points while Chris Bosh poured in 26 points
and pulled down seven rebounds for the Raptors, who lost for the fourth time
in five tries. Morris Peterson added 18 points in the losing effort.
“We didn’t get it done tonight,” Rose said. “We lost to a team that was
better. Obviously we competed, we had spurts where we played hard but moral
victories do not count in this game and it’s another loss.”
In what was a close first half, Boston began to pull away in the third
quarter. Trailing 67-66, Pierce triggered a 16-6 surge with his trey at
the 4:30 mark. Antoine Walker netted a three-pointer in the flurry, while
Pierce finished with six points.
The Celtics carried an 82-73 advantage into the final frame and went up by
double-digits in the early moments of the quarter on a bucket by Davis.
Boston’s lead grew to 14 moments later, but Toronto battled back, using an
11-0 burst to pull within three. Rose triggered the surge on a jumper and
added a three-point play in the run, while Bosh capped it on a bucket with
6:30 left on the clock.
Toronto trailed 91-88 at that point.
Another Rose bucket with two minutes left brought the Raptors to within 98-96,
but Pierce connected on five free throw attempts down the stretch to solidify
the win for Boston.
Toronto held a 32-26 lead after the first quarter of play, and led 50-49 at
The Celtics improved to 18-7 since acquiring Walker and are 35-10 when scoring
100 points this season…Toronto finished just 2-of-12 from three-point range,
but has made at least one three-point attempt in 530 straight games…Boston
won the season series 3-1.