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Recap: Raptors , Celtics
Date: February 01, 2012 7:30 PM EDT
  

BOSTON (AP) - The compact schedule of the post-lockout NBA doesn't offer many breaks, so the Boston Celtics created one of their own.

All five Boston starters sat out the entire fourth quarter, leaving the reserves to finish off Toronto in a 100-64 rout of the Raptors on Wednesday night. The reserves didn't let up either as the Celtics crept above .500 for the second time this season with their sixth win in seven games.

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``It was great,' coach Doc Rivers said. ``Every guy came in and they did the same thing.'

The Celtics never trailed and scored at least 20 points in every quarter while holding Toronto to 19 points or fewer each period.

Paul Pierce had 17 points and eight assists, Ray Allen and Brandon Bass added 12 points apiece and Avery Bradley scored 11 for the Celtics.

At 11-10, the Celtics hardly appear bound to hang another banner from the Garden rafters, but they do seem to have adjusted to the quick turnaround and lack of practice time between games.

The second half turned out to be a bonus practice for the Celtics, who led by as much as 40. Allen said he told the reserves to make good use of the time.

``Go out there and really play as though the score is 0-0. You guys make us better. You have an opportunity to prove to Coach that you can get more minutes,' Allen said. ``That's a win-win for all of us when you can play a game like that and get everybody opportunities.'

The timing for a blowout was great for the Celtics, who survived a close call in Cleveland the night before when they almost wasted a 22-point lead against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

``I thought we kind of took a step back there in the fourth quarter against Cleveland. but a win is a win and we can learn from it,' Pierce said. ``It was great to go really out there tonight and put a team away that we're supposed to.'

Pierce is now 60 points behind Larry Bird for No. 2 on the Celtics' all-time scoring list. If the upcoming games are at all like Wednesday, it's going to take him a while because he'll be resting on the bench as Rivers tries to protect his aging lineup.

Jerryd Bayless scored 14 and Ed Davis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. They were the only two Toronto players to score in double figures.

``I told the team `for the rest of your basketball career, remember how this feels tonight,'' Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. ``I can't remember getting beat by 40 and it's the worst taste you feel and that's something you don't want to forget.'

Casey's math was slightly off, but message point was clear. The Raptors wilted quickly, getting outscored 29-16 in the first quarter and never recovered.

``We are going to practice tomorrow. I mean there is no doubt about it after an exhibition like that,' Casey said. ``We owe it to the city of Toronto, our organization and ourselves.'

Toronto was without leading scorer Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) and Linas Kleiza, who was inactive. Kleiza's flagrant foul on Rajon Rondo on Jan. 18 injured Rondo's right wrist and kept the Boston point guard out of the last eight games.

Boston improved to 6-2 without Rondo and showed the consistency that was missing in a split of back-to-back games against Cleveland.

The Celtics blew an 11-point lead in the final 4:25 in an 88-87 loss at home to the Cavaliers on Sunday, ending a four-game winning streak, and nearly did it again on Tuesday night in Cleveland. The Celtics led by 16 entering the fourth quarter Tuesday, but managed to hold off the Cavaliers this time, winning 93-90.

There appeared to be no lingering effects from a late flight home when the Celtics took the court Wednesday night and went above .500 for the first time since they were 4-3.

``We've gone through a lot. So has everyone else in the league,' Rivers said. ``To start out slow like we did and get over that number, it's good for us.'

The Celtics shot 62 percent (23 for 37) in the first half, making 7 of 11 3-pointers, while taking a 57-35 halftime lead. Pierce and Sasha Pavlovic hit a pair each from beyond the arc and Kevin Garnett added a 3-pointer with a half-second left before the buzzer to give Boston its largest lead of the night.

Pierce also had six of Boston's 17 assists in the half as the Celtics passed the ball on nearly every possession and shared the scoring. Reserve Brandon Bass was the only Boston player to score in double figures in the half with 10 points.

The onslaught continued in the third quarter as Pierce and Allen delivered back-to-back 3-pointers during an 11-2 run that put Boston up 77-47 with 3:23 left in the period.

Pierce needs 60 points to tie Larry Bird for second in all-time scoring for the Celtics with 21,791 points.

Notes: Boston's 57 points in the first half were a season high. ... Rivers said Rondo could return Friday when the Celtics host the Knicks. ... Rivers said Sunday's noon start against Memphis gives him a dilemma on how to handle practice on Saturday. He said he would prefer a night game, but given that it's Super Bowl Sunday and the New England Patriots are playing, he had a realistic outlook. ``Obviously, I don't think anybody would watch or come, but it would be nice for us because then you could actually have a pretty good practice.'

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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