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Celtics’ shooters put on masterclass as Raptors downed

Raptors' Christian Koloko comes down with a rebound against Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart during the first half at Scotiabank Arena on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.
Raptors' Christian Koloko comes down with a rebound against Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart during the first half at Scotiabank Arena on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Photo by JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI /USA TODAY SPORTS

The Boston Celtics are what the rest of the NBA is chasing, and the Raptors aren’t in that class right now.

For a little over a half, the Raptors were right with the Celtics exchanging blows and leads.

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But in the third quarter, the Celtics gained separation with the kind of shooting display the Raptors just can’t match right now.

Led by potential league MVP Jayson Tatum, the Celtics almost doubled the Raptors in the quarter on their way to a 116-110 win.

Tatum had 17 of his game-high 31 points in that game-changing third quarter in which the visiting Celtics shot 57% from the field and 50% from distance.

With Tatum playing at that level and Jaylen Brown not far behind at 22 points for the night, the Raptors need all of their scorers contributing at a high level and they’re just not getting that right now.

Fred VanVleet continued to struggle with his shot, going just 3-for-14 on the night and with just one make in his six attempts from three. He finished the night with eight points and six assists.

O.G. Anunoby, coming off that season-high tying 32-point effort on Saturday against Orlando, had his own struggles in this one, settling for 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting.

The Raptors did get solid to above-average nights from the trio of Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr., who had another good game off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Celtics on this night.

Siakam had a Raptors’ game-high 29 while Barnes looked much more like the Barnes of a year ago in that second half as he poured in 21.

Trent Jr. was once again effective off the bench, finishing with 20 points on just 10 shots and making all three of his three-point attempts.

The Raptors, down by as many as 13 in that third quarter, got it all the way down to a five-point game in the final couple of minutes and might had a chance to get it down to a one-score game with just under a minute to play as Barnes found Anunoby for an open three on the break.

Unfortunately, the pass slipped through Anunoby’s hands and went out of bounds for a turnover. Boston basically sealed the game with a Blake Griffin tip-in at the rim.

It was the Raptors’ third loss in the past four games as they fell to 12-12.


For a moment there, it appeared Trent Jr. was being re-introduced to the Raptors’ starting five.

The pre-game announced starting lineup had Trent Jr. in there with the season-opening five of himself, VanVleet, Barnes, Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.

Minutes later, there was a change of direction and Trent Jr. was replaced by Christian Koloko in the starting five.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse made it clear pre-game that he was tired of talking about the Trent Jr. move to the bench.

“I’m not probably delving as deep as you are in the Gary Trent situation,” Nurse admitted after a third consecutive question about one of the Raptors’ top three-point threats. “I think he got hurt and he got out of rhythm a little bit and we’ve got guys all over the place, injured a bit. We were moving things around. I’m not overanalyzing it. I’m trying to get him really get out there and guard because he’s got a special way he can attack the ball at different times. He can generate some steals. And I think he can score.

“I think that’s probably enough questions on him,” Nurse concluded.

Trent Jr. has handled the move with a lot of maturity.

“He’s been OK,” Nurse said when asked to assess his play since the move to the bench. “He’s trying very hard to do some of the things that we ask him to do. He’s getting some of them done. He’s had one really good game, another pretty good game and didn’t shoot it very well in the last game … I feel really good about where his head is, where his heart is about the team and all that stuff, and that’s the main thing.”

  1. Pascal Siakam moved up to fifth place in the Raptors' career scoring list on Saturday night. Is he on his way to becoming the greatest Raptor of them all?

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  2. Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby throws down a dunk against the Orlando Magic.

    RAPTORS BLOG: Raptors rebounded in first vs. Magic after closed door meeting, will it continue?

  3. Kevin Durant of the Nets stiff-arms Fred VanVleet as he drives to the Raptors hoop last night at the Barclays Center. It was that kind of night for the Raptors.

    Raptors fall short against Nets after giving up 40 first-quarter points for second game in a row


The league-leading Celtics arrived in Toronto a little light. Out with a lower-back issue was recently extended Al Horford. It being a back-to-back and at Horford’s advanced age and the back issues, it’s been almost a given that he doesn’t play when the Celtics are scheduled on consecutive nights.

Also missing due to a non-COVID illness was reserve veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon who has been a key piece for the Celtics.

Add in the season-long absence thus far of Robert Williams and the fact that they played the night before while the Raptors rested, and it wasn’t a bad night to take on the team to beat in the NBA right now.