Celtics jump on Raptors early en route to easy triumph

TORONTO -- With Rajon Rondo running at full speed, the Boston Celtics' offense has found a new gear.

Ray Allen scored 21 points and Boston led from the start in winning its fifth straight game, 118-103 over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Tony Allen each scored 15 points for the Celtics, who have won 11 of 12 since a Nov. 1 loss to Indiana.

"Our offense carried us tonight and we executed on all cylinders," Rondo said.

Kendrick Perkins had 12 points and Paul Pierce and Eddie House each had 11 in helping Boston score a season high. Its previous best was 110 points in a Nov. 18 victory over New York.

Coach Doc Rivers credited Rondo for relentlessly pushing the ball.

"I thought his speed was the factor of the game," Rivers said. "It set the tables for everyone else to get in. He's done that three or four games in a row and we're winning by big margins and I really believe that's the reason."

Rondo was reluctant to run at first, so Rivers had to press the message home.

"I told him that his speed, every night, has to be the factor of the game," Rivers said. "That makes people have to play him. Early in the year, everyone was playing off of him because we were walking the ball up the floor and not doing anything. Now, with his speed, you've got to stay with him."

Now in his third season, Rondo said he's more confident with the high pace than he was last season.

"I think I'm 10 times better," Rondo said. "I've been working, trying to continue to learn the game. It's just part of growing as a young player, knowing when and when not to attack."

Continued reinforcement from Rivers has taught Rondo one thing.

"When guys are backpedalling, it's tough to defend a guy that's coming full speed at you," Rondo said.

Maintaining the balance between scorer and distributor remains a challenge, but, as long as the wins keep coming, the Celtics are happy to have Rondo keep running.

"This is a textbook game for Rondo to see exactly how he should attack every night, regardless of who we're playing," Allen said.

Chris Bosh led Toronto with 24 points, while Jose Calderon had 14 points and nine assists. Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker had 14 apiece for the Raptors, who are 2-4 at home.

Boston wasted little time in building a 10-0 lead, forcing Toronto to call time out at 8:37 of the first after missing their first five field goal attempts.

"We took command of the game early and we made sure that we made them play," Allen said.

Toronto forward Jermaine O'Neal left the game in the second quarter after falling following a missed jump shot. O'Neal started despite straining his surgically repaired left knee in the fourth quarter of Friday's overtime loss to New Jersey.

Wincing visibly every time he jumped and landed, O'Neal was slow to get up after falling on a missed jumper at 7:36 of the second. He left the game one possession later and did not return. O'Neal, who finished with six points, spent the second half in the locker room getting treatment.

"I tried to gauge it and see if I could help the team, but I didn't really have any stability, it was becoming too painful," said O'Neal, who expects to be healthy for Wednesday's game against Charlotte.

Boston led 32-20 after the first quarter and pulled away in the second. Tony Allen came off the bench to score 12 points, pushing the lead to 18 at one point. The lone bright spot for Toronto was Calderon's alley-oop to Jamario Moon with just over a minute to play in the half.

The Celtics led 59-49 at the break, their highest-scoring first half of the season.

Game notes

Ray Allen had five of Boston's 10 3-pointers as the Celtics finished 10-for-16 from beyond the arc, matching a season-high. ... Pierce got a technical foul for arguing with 25.6 seconds left in the second, and Perkins got one for taunting after a third-quarter dunk. ... Calderon made all eight of his free throws and is a 40-for-40 from the line this season.