It was a night for the little guys.
Rajon Rondo dunked over Raptors center Chris Bosh late in the third quarter and T.J. Ford created havoc with his quickness for Toronto as the Celtics and Raptors engaged in some old-school defensive basketball.
Need evidence it was a defensive basketball game? Toronto had just 56 points at the end of the third quarter on 39 percent shooting. They turned the ball over 15 times in the first three periods.
The Celtics, meanwhile, had 65 points at that point while shooting slightly better (41 percent). Boston was also sloppy, turning the ball over 13 times through three quarters.
Rondo pushed the tempo for the Celtics in the third quarter, stretching a four-point halftime lead to a 55-42 lead with 5:28 left in the period. Rondo had eight assists in the game.
After leaving his starters on the bench in the fourth quarter last week against Charlotte, Doc Rivers was faced with a decision midway through the fourth tonight. He could leave his starters on the bench and face potential criticism, or he could put his starters back in to close out the game.
Pierce walked to the scorer’s table at the 8:39 mark with the Celtics up nine. Rivers called him back to the bench.
And then the coach called a timeout and subbed in his best player. Pierce was joined a couple of minutes later by Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics never looked back.
Pierce led the Celtics with 23 points and seven assists in 35 minutes. Jefferson had 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Rondo was all over the court for 16 points, eight assists, and five rebounds.
Ford led Toronto with 28 points, nine assists, and four rebounds.
We’ll be back in a bit with reaction from the locker rooms.