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CELTICS NOTEBOOK

Lost in the transition

Deal to Toronto upsets Williams

TORONTO -- He hasn't been here even a month, but you can tell that Eric Williams, as is his history, already has had an impact on the Raptors.

"He knows the game," said Toronto guard Milt Palacio, a teammate of Williams with the Celtics. "He's a tough SOB."

Williams is with his third team in the last 1 1/2 seasons. He ended last season with the Cavaliers. He signed with the Nets as a free agent over the summer. He was traded to the Raptors Dec. 17 as part of the Vince Carter Clearance. Last night was his 10th game with Toronto and his ninth start.

"Everything's pretty cool," he said prior to the Raptors' 104-93 victory over the Celtics. "I'm just trying to make the best of it as I can. And let my personality shine." He had 4 points and four assists in a workmanlike 28 minutes last night.

To be blunt, Williams was not pleased about the deal, which sent him, Aaron Williams, and Alonzo Mourning to Toronto for Carter. As Eric Williams put it, "I was upset. Surprised. Angry. Disappointed. Everything. But I understand this business. I knew it wasn't because I wasn't playing well. At the time, I was the only one [in the trade] who was even playing."

Mourning is on the Raptors' injured list. You will see him in a Toronto uniform immediately after Rush Limbaugh is invited to be the ACLU's executive director. Aaron Williams has played sparingly (15 minutes over four games) and had missed the last four games with a sprained left ankle. He was available last night but did not play.

Probably the biggest downer for Eric Williams is that he is separated from his son, Eric, who is 10. The younger Eric Williams now lives with his grandmother, Pat Williams, in the Newark area.

"That was what was so great about the whole New Jersey move," Eric Williams said. "But now, well, who better than to take care of him than my mom?"

Minutes made
After getting a DNP against Orlando Monday, and not playing in the first half last night, Walter McCarty finally got the call with 10:57 left in the third quarter. He stayed on the floor until 2:26 remained in the game. "I was desperate," said coach Doc Rivers. "I apologized to him afterward for giving him so many [consecutive] minutes. I thought he was going to die out there. But we needed something. I was searching." The 20 minutes surpassed by one the amount of time McCarty had played in the previous three games . . . While the Raptors were raining down threes, the Celtics had no luck from downtown, connecting on just 3 of 16 3-pointers . . . Tough night for Al Jefferson (0 for 6 in 11 minutes) and Tony Allen (2 points, three fouls in eight minutes.) "Our young guys were all flat," Rivers said. "I ask a lot of them; they're our energy group. But they had nothing. They couldn't think. They couldn't focus. They couldn't run." That about sums it up . . . Paul Pierce after the game said the Atlantic Division was "the worst in NBA history." He may be right. The Celtics were actually in the position last night where a win, and a win tomorrow night at home over Atlanta, would have put them in first place with a sub.-500 record. Someone has to win the division and here's Rivers's take on it: "I think it's going to be the team that gets hot. You go out and win eight or nine in a row, you might clinch." Rivers said he wouldn't even rule out New Jersey, which has lost Richard Jefferson for the season with a wrist injury. "They still have Jason Kidd and Vince Carter." The Raptors are eight games under .500 and are only 3 1/2 games behind first-place New York (17-18). If Toronto can find a way to win on the road, where it is 2-17, the Raptors might even put themselves in contention . . . Morris Peterson's seven 3-pointers were two shy of the Toronto team record held by old friend Dee Brown, who made nine against the Bucks April 28, 1999 . . . All In The Extended Family Dept.: Lamond Murray is on track to set a Toronto record for 3-point shooting percentage in a season. Murray made two 3-pointers last night and is shooting 46 percent from international waters. The Raptors' franchise record is 42.2 percent, held by Tracy Murray, who happens to be Lamond Murray's cousin . . . Ricky Davis is one steal shy of 400 for his career . . . Gary Payton and Raef LaFrentz each picked up a technical. Both teams were nailed once for illegal defense.

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