TORONTO -- After an emotional few days, the Boston Celtics got back to basketball Wednesday night. Next up will be preparing for the playoffs.
Wearing a black stripe on their jerseys, the Celtics played for the first time since Monday's bomb attack near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Players from both teams gathered at midcourt before tip-off to observe a moment of silence.
Neil Diamond's classic hit "Sweet Caroline," long associated with Boston's beloved Red Sox, played as the Celtics' starters were introduced, and a message on stadium scoreboards read, "Tonight we are all Boston fans." In the stands opposite the Toronto bench, three female fans held up a sign that read, "Send Boston Love."
"I thought it was sensational," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought it was really neat. I wish the fans had known the lyrics to 'Sweet Caroline' a little bit better. Other than that, it was terrific."
Celtics forward Jeff Green said he was touched by the tribute.
"It was lovely," Green said. "The city of Boston has been through so much in the past 72 hours, so I think it was great to see Toronto show respect. I think the whole city appreciated it. They're dealing with a lot right now."
The Celtics had not played since Saturday night at Orlando and their game Tuesday night at home against Indiana was canceled following the bombings.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points, Alan Anderson had 16 and Kyle Lowry had nine points and eight assists as the Raptors matched their longest winning streak of the season. Toronto also won five straight from Feb. 8-19.
The Raptors went 30-29 after starting the season 4-19.
"If you disregard the 4-19, then we're knocking on the door of the playoffs," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We're going that way. We have to get ready for the next step."
Acquired from Memphis in a three-team trade Jan. 30, Gay stood at midcourt to deliver a brief speech before the game, thanking fans for their support and urging them to "Get ready for next year."
"This team has great bones, I've seen it," Gay said. "We have a lot of potential and have a lot of good pieces."
"I thought a couple of our guys didn't handle the minutes well but at least they got to play and that's good," Rivers said.
Kevin Garnett (left ankle) and Jason Terry (sore leg) did not play for Boston, which is locked into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and will meet the Atlantic division-rival New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.
"Our first focus is defense and I believe we are ready," Green said. "Today we tried to act like (the Raptors) were New York but obviously we didn't have all of our guys."
Forward Paul Pierce, who missed Monday's practice due to illness, started for Boston but did not play in the second half. He scored 11 points in 14 minutes, going 5-for-7 from the field.
Rivers said the Celtics won't practice Thursday but will hold a walkthrough at their Toronto hotel before an evening flight to New York, where their playoff series begins Saturday afternoon.
Gay scored 12 points in the first and Valanciunas added nine, but Crawford banked in a 3 at the buzzer to pull Boston to 31-30 after one quarter.
Anderson score five points as Toronto widened its lead with a 10-0 run early in the second. The Raptors led 59-49 at the half.
Celtics forward Shavlik Randolph left at halftime with a sore lower back. Randolph scored five points in 12 minutes.
Green started the second half with a jumper but the Raptors answered with a 13-0 run, including 3-pointers by Lowry and Amir Johnson, to take a commanding 72-51 lead.
DeRozan scored 15 in the third and Toronto led 96-70 heading into the final quarter.
Raptors rookie G Terrence Ross sat out for the third time in four games with a sore left ankle. ... Toronto finished 21-20 at home, its first winning record since the 2009-10 season. ... DeRozan became the first Raptors player to start all 82 games in multiple seasons. He also made 82 starts in 2010-11. ... Casey celebrated his 56th birthday.
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill share their opinions on Bill Walton telling his son, Luke, to avoid the Lakers coaching job if offered to him.
Jalen Rose tells Dan Le Batard that Shaquille O'Neal did a good job leading the Lakers' teams during the 2000s.
Jemele Hill questions if you can build a championship team around James Harden.