Celtics rally to beat Raptors, seize division lead

Agence France-Presse
Isaiah Thomas scores 19 of his 44 points in the final frame to lead Boston past Toronto

BOSTON'S MVP. Isaiah Thomas receives MVP chants from the Celtics crowd during their win against the Raptors. Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

LOS ANGELES, US – Isaiah Thomas worked his fourth-quarter magic yet again on Wednesday, February 1 (Thursday morning, Manila time) as the Boston Celtics erased an 18-point third-quarter deficit en route to a 109-104 NBA victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Thomas scored 19 of his 44 points in the final period, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 48.1 seconds remaining.

He had scored 9 straight points to give Boston their first lead of the contest, 95-94, with 4:39 to play.

The lead changed hands half a dozen times after that, until his 3-pointer from the left wing lifted the Celtics to a 103-101 advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

The win over a Raptors team playing the second game of a back-to-back without injured All-Star DeMar DeRozan, gave Boston a 1 1/2-game lead over Toronto atop the Atlantic Division.

If they’re in front when the week ends on Sunday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens will coach the Eastern Conference team at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans on February 19.

It was the Celtics’ first win over Toronto in 3 games this season.

“You know what’s crazy is I thought we played better in the first two games,” said Stevens, who let his team know at half time that he thought they were under-performing.

“Honestly, Brad (coach Stevens) killed us at halftime,” Thomas said. “He yelled at us, that was probably the most mad I’ve seen him.”

Thomas responded with the kind of fourth-quarter fireworks that are becoming his trademark.

He leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring. He came into the contest averaging 10.3 fourth-quarter points per game.

“You gotta trap him, get the ball out of his hands,” Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry said of Thomas. “He got three wide open looks in the fourth. That can’t happen.”

Lowry did all he could to hold off Thomas and the Celtics. He scored 12 of his 32 points in the final period en route to his fourth straight 30-point game. – Rappler.com

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