Raptors beat Celtics, close in on spot in NBA playoffs

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Raptors beat Celtics, close in on spot in NBA playoffs

Terrence Ross scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry 23 and the Toronto Raptors edged closer to their first playoff berth since 2008 with a 99-90 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. DeMar DeRozan added 20 points for Toronto, which increased its Atlantic Division lead to 2 1/2 games over Brooklyn, which lost in Charlotte. The Raptors can clinch a playoff spot if the New York Knicks lose at Sacramento later Wednesday.

Jared Sullinger led Boston with 26 points, going 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Boston lost for the seventh time in eight games.

“Not just the franchise, the whole city of Toronto and Canada,’’ said DeRozan, sitting at his locker with his left foot in a bucket of ice. “I’ve been here five years and see how passionate the fans are. It definitely means a lot. We feed off them, the energy they bring every single night. That would be great for the city and we have to take advantage of the opportunity.’’

It was Lowry’s eighth straight game of 20 or more points and helped the Raptors snap an 11-game losing streak in Boston.

“I’m not going to lie,’’ Lowry said. “I think everybody tonight is rooting for that Western Conference team over there.’’

Toronto captured its 19th road win, one off the club record set 2000-01.

Boston guard Rajon Rondo was cut on the forehead midway in the third quarter and received nine stitches. He returned to the bench early in the fourth quarter with a bandage that ran from the bridge of his nose straight up to his forehead and he re-entered the game with 8:05 to play.

The Raptors had opened a 79-64 lead early the fourth quarter, but Boston went on a 9-0 run. Toronto pushed it back to 85-75 before Sullinger nailed consecutive 3s 34 seconds apart, narrowing it to four points with just under 6 minutes to play.

Chris Johnson’s basket - on an official’s reviewed goaltending call - closed it to 93-90 with 1:49 left, but Lowry and Ross hit consecutive 3s on the next two possessions to send the Raptors to victory.

In the third quarter, Lowry nailed consecutive 3s on Toronto’s first two possessions, pushing the Raptors’ lead to 61-46. They held at least a nine-point lead for the rest of the quarter, opening it to 77-62 after Ross nailed a 3 at the buzzer.

Toronto, which blew an 11-point second-quarter lead in less than 2 minutes, held a 55-46 advantage at halftime.

AP


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