On January 18, the Boston Celtics ended their five-game losing streak with a 96-73 win over the Toronto Raptors. Rajon Rondo carved up the Raptors' defense to the tune of 21 points on seven of eight shooting, but left the game in the second-half after falling hard on his right wrist. Luckily, early reports say he just has a sore wrist. The Celtics improve to 5-8 and now sit four and a half games behind the Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics jumped out to an 18-7 lead behind much improved shooting and ball management. Rondo abused Jose Calderon and got to the basket at will; he scored 13 on five of five shooting in the first quarter. Boston finished the first up 29-14 with a plus-five advantage on the boards and only two turnovers.
In the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter, Toronto ran off seven straight points against Boston's second unit. The Celtics weathered the flurry and though they weren't as sharp as they were in the first quarter, they maintained a six to ten-point lead for the rest of the half. They went into halftime leading 44-38.
The Celtics' starters rebuilt their double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Rondo continued to penetrate at ease and Boston's ball movement opened up plenty of high-percentage shots. The second unit was far more effective in its second stint. Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus led the charge as the Celtics extended their lead to 64-46. A Ray Allen three increased the Celtics' lead to 22 at 68-46; it would grow to as many as 27 in the fourth quarter.
After extending their lead, the Celtics had their scariest moment of the season when Linas Kleiza committed a flagrant foul on Rondo late in the third. Rondo landed awkwardly on his shooting hand and after collecting himself and taking his free throws, he exited the game. His initial diagnosis is just a sore wrist and if that remains the case in the coming days, they will have dodged a bullet. Rondo's health is paramount to the Celtics' fortunes. At this point, they are no better than a lottery team without him.
Next up for the Celtics, the Phoenix Suns come to town on Friday, January 20. In the midst of a five-game road trip, the Suns just snapped their own five-game losing streak against the New York Knicks.
Toronto at Boston, Wednesday, January 18, 2012, NBA -- Yahoo! Sports
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William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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