BOSTON -- First impressions from the Boston Celtics’ 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at TD Garden.
Beat goes on: Rajon Rondo aced all his tests with longtime team trainer Eddie Lacerte and was cleared to return Friday from his three-game absence because of a strained left hamstring. If anyone was worried about him being rusty after the layoff, Rondo put those concerns to rest early and often against the Raptors. The Celtics’ star point guard had 8 assists in just more than 9 minutes of action in the first quarter, had 11 assists in the first half and finished with 14 for the game.
Paint them impressive: The Celtics outscored the Raptors 64-44 in the paint. Kevin Garnett continued his resurgence this season, recording his seventh double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Many of Garnett’s points came on lobs from Rondo, a play the two use enough to make you wonder if they’ve applied for a patent. Shaquille O’Neal chipped in 16 points, making all five of his field goals, two days after submitting a 25-point, 11-rebound performance against the Nets.
Streaks come, and streaks go: For the second straight meeting, the Raptors ended a Celtics streak. Coming into the game, the Celtics hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points in the fourth quarter in five games. Toronto made quick work of that, scoring 32 to erase much of what had been a 22-point, third-quarter Celtics lead and ensure there would be no early rest for the Celtics’ starters.
In the teams’ previous meeting, Sunday in Toronto, the Raptors ended the Celtics’ eight-game winning streak over the Canadian club. And though it doesn’t erase Sunday’s result, with their win Friday, the Celtics exacted a small measure of revenge by ending the Raptors’ four-game winning streak.