DeMar DeRozan with a monster 2nd half and the Celtics implode, lose 114-106

DeMar Derozan went off in the 2nd half, and the Raptors come back to knock off the Celtics in Toronto, 114-106. A game that Boston led comfortably from mid-way through the 2nd quarter, until late in the 4th, slipped away as DeRozan scored 31 in the 2nd half, and the Celtics offense disappeared late in the game. DeRozan finished with 41 points and 13 rebounds, and his backcourt-mate Kyle Lowry chipped in 24 points and 9 assists. Isaiah Thomas finished with 27 points and 7 assists to lead the C's, but the Celtics completely melted down in the 4th quarter. The Raptors closed the game on a 23-6 run, and quickly turned what looked to be a solid game from the Celtics into a nightmare.

The two teams traded baskets to start the game. Marcus Smart was on a heat check seeing if his big game shooting against New Orleans would carry over, as he took two 3-pointers and another with his toe on the line in the opening 6 minutes - he hit one. Jonas Valnciunas dominated the glass pulling down 7 rebounds in that same stretch before a timeout with 5:41 to go in the 1st (10-9, Toronto).

After the break Toronto ripped off and 11-5 run, but the C's managed to finish the quarter only trailing by 5 (23-18). Valanciunas ended the frame with 6 points to go along with 9 rebounds to lead the Raptors. Smart and Thomas paced the Celtics in points with 5 a piece in a quarter that was a mix of sloppy play and solid defense from both teams.

The C's came out shooting in the 2nd, as they knocked down 5 of their first 7 shots to start the quarter before a Toronto timeout with 8:49 in the half (29-28 Raptors). The offense picked up big time for both teams in the 2nd, and the defensive slugfest from the first quarter quickly turned. DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry picked up the scoring for Toronto, and the Celts got a boost off the bench from Gerald Green who knocked down some big buckets, including this fresh fadeaway:

Green scored 9 points in 12 minutes on 4 of 7 from the floor. Lowry and DeRozon each finished the half with 10 points and the Raptors point guard had 5 assists to go with them. The story of the first half though was Marcus Smart, who stayed hot from Saturday - he had 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists and lead all scorers at the break. His ferocious defense was at it's usual height, he notched a pair of steals and hounded the Toronto guards throughout the half. The Raptors turned the ball over 11 times in the first half (they average 12 a game), and the Celtics shot the ball 52% as a team to put them up nine at the end of the 2nd (55-46).

Toronto had a terrible quarter defending the paint as the Celtics we're able to get inside and attack consistently:

DeRozan came out firing in the 3rd - scoring 7 points in the opening 6 minutes, but the Celtics managed to extend their lead behind some threes from Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford, and then this ridiculous shot from Thomas who just continues to be amazing:

Steals on back-to-back plays from Smart led to baskets and capped off an 8-0 run that put the Celtics up 75-59 with 5:01 left in the 3rd. Timeout, Toronto.

The Raptors ripped off 7 straight points out of the timeout, after trading a another pair of buckets Gerald Green was whistled for an offensive foul, on what looked to be an inadvertent elbow to the face of Lowry. After an official review it was deemed that it wasn't a flagrant foul, but the elbow didn't slow down Toronto.

A 12 point lead quickly evaporated as DeRozan and the Raptors got real hot, ripping off 8 straight. Brad Stevens had to bring back Isaiah early to stop the offensive drought, and the bleeding:

DeRozan finished the 3rd quarter with 18 points, and led all scorers with 29 heading into the 4th. The two scoring leaders in the Eastern conference were primed for a 4th quarter duel.

The teams traded buckets to start the 4th, then Gerald Green made another statement - throwing down one of his dunk contest-esque jams on an alley-oop:

He followed that up with another big shot, and after a DeRozan bucket the Raptors called for timeout (100-93, Celtics). DeMar stayed hot after the timeout, getting to the line and then hitting a huge jumper on back to back plays. Then he drove on Crowder and hit a crazy floater off the top of the backboard to pull the Raptors within 1. Kyle Lowry then hit a huge three from straightaway to give the Raptors the lead for the first time since midway through the 2nd quarter.

The Raptors ultimately finished the game on a 23-6 run, and the Celtics looked completely lost on offense in the closing minutes. DeRozan was ultimately unstoppable as he closed out the game, and it wasn't for lack of defense on the C's end, as most of his shots were tightly contested. He just couldn't miss. What looked like it might be a solid win turned very quickly, and what could've been a huge boost in confidence reversed itself very quickly. Just the way that game ended was very disheartening after the Celtics played well for 3 and a half quarters.

The Celtics were without starting shooting-guard Avery Bradley, and perhaps the 1st-team All-defender would've helped on DeRozan down the stretch, but they should've been able to put this one away without him. They won't have to long to dwell on it though, as they get back to it tomorrow night at home against John Wall and the Wizards.

Photo Credit - Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

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