LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) – No need for any big shots this time. Not the way the Toronto Raptors just kept getting stops.
Pascal Siakam had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 11 boards and the Raptors evened the Eastern Conference semi-final at two games apiece, beating the Boston Celtics 100-93 on Saturday.
Two days after winning Game 3 on OG Anunoby’s 3-pointer as time expired, the Raptors shut down most of Boston’s perimeter shooters and Jaylen Brown in particular.
Serge Ibaka had 18 points off the bench on seven-of-nine shooting and Fred VanVleet finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Raptors shot only 39.5 per cent but believe they’ll eventually put their offence and defence together on the same night.
“I think we can always get to another level. I feel like we can always do that and obviously everyone clicking at the right time, and once we have that we’re a pretty special team,” Siakam said.
Jayson Tatum had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. They won their first six postseason games before dropping the last two. Kemba Walker had 15 points and
“Obviously, we didn’t play that well, I didn’t play that well,” Brown said. “We’ve got to bounce back and be ready to fight. That’s what it comes down to.”
The Celtics were seven for 35 (20 per cent) from 3-point range. Brown missed his first nine attempts behind the arc and finished 2 for 11, and 4 for 18 overall. Tatum, Walker and Marcus Smart were all one for six on three-pointers.
“I think we made it a little bit tougher for them tonight but they still had a lot of shots that they were able to get off,” Lowry said. “We’re just trying to contain those guys: Tatum, Brown, Walker even Smart. We’ve just got to continue to make it tough on those guys.”
The Raptors got their own shooting untracked late in the third quarter to open the first sizable lead by either team and Boston couldn’t hit nearly enough shots to put much of a dent in it.
The Celtics were a half-second from taking a 3-0 lead, from which no NBA team has recovered, after Daniel Theis’ basket gave them a two-point lead Thursday. But Anunoby’s three got the defending NBA champions, who overcame a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals, on the way to what they hope will be a similar recovery.
Coach Nick Nurse assumed the Raptors would quickly refocus after the euphoria of that victory, recalling how well they played on short rest after Kawhi Leonard’s series-winning shot to beat Philadelphia in Game 7 of the second round before falling in Game 1 at Milwaukee.
He was right, as Lowry sent them to a quick 11-4 lead with eight points. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with Toronto leading 31-27. There were five ties in the second quarter, including when VanVleet’s three-pointer with 0.9 seconds to go made it 49-all.
After some cold perimetre shooting by both teams, the Raptors finally had a strong stretch late in the third, getting two three-pointers by VanVleet and another by Ibaka in a little over a minute to open their largest lead at 79-68. Toronto led by eight after three.
The Celtics never got closer than five in the final quarter and when they did for the final time, Tatum was called for an offensive foul with 32 seconds left.
Walker took only nine shots, a number he said was unacceptable on his behalf. “We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to want it more,” Walker said.