The Raptors had the referees raising their arms to signal 3-pointers so many times last night at TD Banknorth Garden, you would have thought they were trying to start the wave.
The Celtics surrendered 15 3-pointers to Toronto en route to a 114-112 loss.
Boston (33-7) lost for the first time in 11 games against Atlantic Division competition this season. The Raptors nailed 15 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc, three shy of the record for a Celtics opponent, set by Seattle Feb. 22, 2004. Toronto (23-19) won for the first time in four meetings this season.
"We felt like it kind of slipped away from us and we are kicking ourselves for losing," said Celtics guard Ray Allen, who missed a tying 9-foot jumper at the buzzer. "But give them all the credit in the world. They shot the ball lights-out tonight."
The Raptors had four players score at least 20 - Jose Calderon (24 points, 13 assists), Chris Bosh (23), Anthony Parker (23), and Andrea Bargnani (20) - and reserve forward Carlos Delfino added 15 points. Delfino hit all five of his 3-point attempts, Parker nailed four treys, and Calderon and Bargnani each sank three 3-pointers. The Raptors also have former 3-point champion Jason Kapono, who didn't attempt a 3-pointer in 6 1/2 minutes. The Raptors shot 58 percent from the field (40 of 69) and made all 19 of their free throw attempts.
"They were on fire," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They made some tough shots, too. They really did. But to shoot 71 percent [on 3-pointers], half the guys in our league couldn't shoot 15 for 21 in a gym by themselves behind the three. And they did it with other people on the floor."
Said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell: "We did a good job moving the ball. If we get shots, we can make shots."
Kevin Garnett scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished 5 assists for the Celtics. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each added 19 points and hit three 3-pointers, and Tony Allen scored 15 points.
Boston scored 56 points in the paint to Toronto's 16. The Celtics had 23 fast-break points, while the Raptors had none. And the Celtics scored 29 points off turnovers.
"They shot 71 percent from three and 58 percent field goal percentage and we still had a chance to win the game," said Garnett, who was unhappy with the officiating. "But like Doc said in the locker room, we hang our hat on our defense, and looking at these numbers, you've got to damn near shoot perfect to beat us by 2. So, I'll take that."
Toronto entered the game as the NBA's best 3-point-shooting team, while Boston was the league's top team defensively against the 3-pointer. Something had to give.
The Raptors hit six 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 57-55 lead. Although Toronto added six more 3-pointers in the third quarter, the Celtics hit four of their own and outscored the Raptors, 36-27, to take a 91-84 lead.
"We just didn't defend the 3-point [shot]," Pierce said. "We talked about it [at halftime]. They are the No. 1 3-point-shooting team in the league and they got us in situations where they challenge you. Then they put four or five shooters on the court."
The Celtics took their biggest lead of the fourth quarter, 94-86, on a reverse lay-in by Glen Davis with 10:31 remaining. The Raptors responded with a 25-16 run capped by two Calderon free throws to take a 111-110 lead with 31.3 seconds remaining.
After Eddie House missed a jumper, Ray Allen nailed a 17-footer to put the Celtics back up, 112-111, with 14.9 seconds left. During a timeout called by the Raptors, Ray Allen pleaded with his teammates not to foul. But Calderon converted a layup with 10.5 seconds left to give Toronto a 113-112 lead, and was fouled by Rajon Rondo in the process. Calderon made the free throw for a 2-point advantage.
After House missed a potential winning 3-pointer, the ball ended up in Ray Allen's hands along the baseline. Allen took one dribble to his left before shooting over the Raptors' 7-foot center, Rasho Nesterovic. But the shot didn't fall as the Celtics lost at home for just the fourth time in 22 games.
"I won't be able to sleep tonight just thinking about that shot," Allen said. "I heard a voice behind me telling me to shoot it and it was Kevin. And when I got the rebound, I was in a swarm and it was almost like I was rushing trying to get it up. Like any situation, any time, any game that I've been in, I'm going to replay that over and over in my head."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.