Celtics Beat Raptors, Win 9th Straight

Monday, December 17th 2007, 7:18 am
By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) _ The Boston Celtics impressed Toronto coach Sam Mitchell with the way they beat the Raptors and matched their longest winning streak in more than 14 years.

Paul Pierce scored 18 points, Kevin Garnett had 16 and the Celtics beat the Raptors 90-77 Sunday for their ninth straight victory. The Atlantic Division leaders matched their longest win streak since March 16-31, 1993.

``They just beat us, they're better than us right now,'' Mitchell said. ``They set the bar to where all the teams need to be.''

Chris Bosh had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto. Jamario Moon finished with 13 points and Kris Humphries had 12.

``We played hard ... they're a better basketball team right now, it wasn't for a lack of effort,'' Mitchell said. ``I didn't see our guys not playing hard, there's a difference between getting beat and not playing hard.''

Boston improved to 20-2 for the second time in franchise history, matching the mark set by the 1963-64 team that went on to win a championship.

In other NBA games Sunday, it was: Detroit 109, Golden State 87; Portland 116, Denver 105; the Los Angeles Lakers 113, the Los Angeles Clippers 92.

The Celtics won their second straight game without guard Ray Allen (sore right ankle). Allen, who remained in Boston for treatment, is expected to return when Boston hosts Detroit on Wednesday.

Rajon Rondo scored 14 points, and has 31 points and 12 assists in Allen's absence.

``He's been tremendous,'' Pierce said. ``It seems like he's getting better each and every game.''

Toronto trailed 71-54 after three quarters before opening the fourth with a 7-0 run, cutting the gap to 10. But with Garnett back on the floor, he and Pierce scored six points in an 8-2 run that put Boston up 80-63 with 5:52 remaining.

``They made an adjustment and got a couple of buckets and started to make their way back,'' Garnett said. ``We adjusted to what they were doing and never looked back from there.''

James Posey, who had 10 points, believes accountability up and down the roster is the reason for Boston's success on defense.

``We've got guys that take responsibility when they mess up,'' Posey said. ``We correct our mistakes, get back out there and make sure we're on the same page. We just cause havoc for the most part.''

The Celtics lead the NBA in opponents' scoring average and scoring differential.

``Our philosophy is that defense is going to win games for us,'' Garnett said. ``We're trying to have the defense fuel the offense, and it's been working.''

The Raptors had a season-low scoring output, eclipsing the 84 they scored in a Dec. 7 loss at Boston.

``They played hard and took us out of what we wanted to do,'' Humphries said. ``They made it tough for Jose (Calderon) and our guards to get the rhythm they usually get.''

The Raptors played their third straight game without guard T.J. Ford, injured in a frightening fall Tuesday at Atlanta.

Pistons 109, Warriors 87

Tayshaun Prince scored 23 points, and Antonio McDyess had 14 points and 11 rebounds in host Detroit's ninth victory in 11 games.

Chauncey Billups added 19 points for the Pistons, while Richard Hamilton had 13 points and six assists.

Stephen Jackson was the only Warrior to reach double figures, scoring nine of his 13 points in the first quarter.

Trail Blazers 116, Nuggets 105

Brandon Roy had 26 points and 11 assists and Channing Frye scored 20 points to lead visiting Portland.

Allen Iverson had 38 points for Denver, which has lost two straight after a three-game winning streak. Carmelo Anthony struggled from the field again and finished with 19 points on 6-for-17 shooting, and Kenyon Martin had 14 for the Nuggets.

Travis Outlaw had 17 points for the Blazers, who got their first win in Denver since Feb. 26, 2003.

Lakers 113, Clippers 92.

Kobe Bryant scored 32 points and Sasha Vujacic scored all of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead the host Lakers.

Andrew Bynum had 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots in his anticipated matchup against the Clippers' Chris Kaman. Luke Walton scored a season-high 15 points for the Lakers, and Lamar Odom had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Corey Maggette scored 27 points, and Kaman had 18 points and 16 rebounds for his ninth straight double-double and 19th this season.