While he was poring over tape of all the Celtics weapons coming in – Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O’Neal and their combined 60,000-plus points plus Rajon Rondo his double-digit assist binges — in all likelihood, Raptors coach Jay Triano didn’t spend much time game-planning for Luke Harangody. Before tonight, there wasn’t much reason to.
But after torching Toronto for 8 points in four minutes ion the first quarter and go on to score 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, Harangody left the Raptors with a few mental notes in the Celtics’ 122-102 win.
His early flurry helped the Celtics opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter, and from there the Raptors were stuck trying to climb out of the canyon. Pierce scored a game-high 20 points, resting the entire fourth quarter. Allen finished with 17 points, drilling 3 of his 4 3-pointers.
In all, six Celtics reached double figures, and for the and fifth time in seven games, the Celtics shot better than 50 percent as a team. After shooting it out with the Spurs Wednesday (putting up a 61.3 percent clip), they shot 57.5 percent last night.
Defense hasn’t been Toronto’s calling card this year. They’re dead last in field goal defense, and they’re in the bottom third of the league in scoring defense and 3-point field goal defense Boston was the last stop on a three-game road swing for Toronto, and when they got here, they’re defense was running on empty.
The 67 points the Celtics to ran up in the first half wasn’t the most the Raptors defense allowed this season (Denver ransacked them for 74 first-half points early in December), but the Celtics’ final shooting percentage was the most efficient clip any team’s shot against the Raptors this season.
Fourth quarter, 9:53, Celtics 97, Raptors 84: Semih Erden hit the floor for the first time since Dec. 22, but Doc Rivers took him off the floor two minutes later, subbing in Glen Davis.
End of third quarter, Celtics 94, Raptors 77: The Celtics are the league’s best field goal offense (50.3 percent), but in their past seven games, they’ve been exceptionally effective. They’ve shot at least 50 percent in five of their last seven, including 61.3 percent Wednesday night against the Spurs and 60 percent tonight against the Raptors. Six players are in double figures. Paul Pierce has as game-high 20 on 6 of 10 shooting.
Third quarter, 3:34, Celtics 84, Raptors 71: Defense hasn’t been Toronto’s calling card this season. They’re dead last in field goal defense, and they’re in the bottom third of the league in scoring defense and 3-point field goal defense. Right now the Celtics (shooting 60.7 percent) are on pace to set the high for field goal percentage for a Raptors opponent.
Third quarter, 8:53, Celtics 76, Raptors 55: Shaq (12 points) has flushed downa pair of dunks already, Rondo’s cranking his assist count up (7). The Celtics are still scoring at will (67.4 percent).
Halftime, Celtics 67, Raptors 45: The Celtics rung up a season-high 67 points in the first half. They shot 65.9 percent from the floor. No surprise that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen led the way scoring with 11 points apiece, but it’s a pretty safe bet that no one expected Luke Harangody would have had just as many points at the break. He scored 8 points in just four minutes in the first quarter, giving the Celtics an early spark.
Celtics: Pierce, Allen, Harangody, 11.
Raptors: DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, 10.
Celtics: S. O’Neal, R. Rondo, Harangody, 4.
Raptors: Kleiza, A. Johnson, Barngani, 3.
Celtics: Rondo, 5.
Raptors: Calderon, 8.
Second quarter, 5:55, Celtics 51, Raptors 34: Amalie Benjamin’s making a cameo tonight, and she asked a funny question. How deep into the game can Luke Harangody be the Celtics’ leading scorer. He’s got 11 right now. Ray Allen’s right behind him with 9. . Paul Pierce has 7. Allen has the edge since he’s on the floor while Pierce and ‘Gody.
Second quarter, 9:11, Celtics 41, Raptors 26Here are your vital signs. Field goal percentage — Celtics 60, Raptors 50. Rebounds — (Celtics 16, Raptors 9). Point in the paint (Celtics 18, Raptors 10). 3-point shooting (Celtics 5/8, Raptors 1/6).
End of first quarter, Celtics 34, Raptors 22Luke Harangody makes Rivers look like a genius, scoring eight points on 4 of 4 shooting. There didn’t seem to be a point during his four minutes where he stood still. He was on the floor, he ran the fastbreak, he bobbled a pass here and there, but made up for it with sharp shooting.
First quarter, 2:11, Celtics 28, Raptors 19: Luke Harangody’s on the floor early and he just knocked down a 20-foot, off-center, catch-and-shoot and finished a Rajon Rondo with a reverse-layup, drawing the foul. He’s getting the minutes that Semih Erden used to see before going missing the past six games. “We just have gone in another direction,” Doc Rivers said before the game. “One reason is because with Kevin being out we need a [power forward], we have two [centers]. Another reason is, Luke in practice – the ones we’ve had – I know I like his energy more. Luke provides more energy and right now with Kevin out, anybody that can provide energy for us on the floor, we’ll take.”
First quarter, 7:22, Celtics 12, Raptors 8: With Ray Allen at the free throw line for the first time since missing a pair at the end of the Celtics’ win over San Antonio, Paul Pierce walked up and said a couple words of “extra encouragement.” Allen made the tech shot.
Pregame: Playing the Raptors for the sixth time since October, Doc Rivers pointed out that there isn’t much left to learn about this team at this point. “We’ve played them enough huh? By the end of the year, your folder’s huge. It’s just never this big by January. But that’s because you’ve played them six times already.”