BOSTON -- Doc Rivers watched the Celtics and Raptors make two-thirds of their shots in the first half and told his players at the break: "The first team that plays defense wins, guys."
"We did defend, and it turned the game around for us," the Boston coach said after the Celtics beat Toronto 116-103 on Friday night. "We were just having a feel-good game: You score, pat them on the back, and then they score. We call it 'Buddy Ball.' Then we stopped."
Ray Allen scored 20 points and Paul Pierce had 18 with seven assists and five rebounds as the Celtics won their third in a row for the first time since opening the season with six straight victories. Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett were perfect from the floor, scoring 18 and 12 points, respectively, and Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 11 assists.
The Celtics shot 15 for 18 and led 33-27 after one quarter. The Raptors were 12 for 17 in the second quarter and led 55-54 at the half.
In the third, Boston continued its hot shooting but also played defense, forcing four turnovers during a 13-0 run that took 7 minutes, 16 seconds and turned a four-point deficit into a 70-61 lead. It was a 17-point lead later in the third, and the Raptors never got closer than nine points in the fourth.
"We scored the first couple of baskets and then we were startled a little bit offensively ," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "And their starting bigs didn't miss a shot. Both guys were perfect."
Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu also scored 20 points and reserve Jarrett Jack added 18 for Toronto. The Raptors have lost six of their last eight games, including a 116-81 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday night that was the worst in franchise history.
"There's a lot of frustration in this locker room, and we have to say 'enough is enough,' reserve Antoine Wright said. "If we continue to go forward like this, it's going to continue to happen to us. We can't blame the refs; we can't blame the game plan. It's about making hard cuts and getting the ball where it's supposed to be."
Bosh was momentarily injured after being "kneed in the pelvic region" during a mid-air collision when Pierce dunked over him on the first basket of the fourth quarter. The Raptors bench was incensed when Pierce stood over him in a taunting pose; Pierce was called for a technical foul.
"I just don't think that's very sportsmanlike," Triano said. "Great play, but I don't think you need to stand there and taunt afterwards."
Turkoglu's steal and dunk gave the Raptors a 61-57 lead with 10:39 left in the third quarter, but Boston scored the next 13 points.
Rasheed Wallace scored 15 points as a reserve, hitting three of his first four 3-point attempts. He also had his fifth technical foul of the season, for complaining after he was called for a personal foul early in the second quarter.
Wallace had been 9 for 54 from 3-point range in his previous 10 games and had scored in double figures once in that span. But he made 3 of 6 on Friday and shot 6 for 11 from the floor overall.
"Offense doesn't concern me. It's easier for people to get layups than it is to get stops on defense or a block. That's what I hang my hat on, is defense," Wallace said.
"Everyone in their career is going to go through a slump, but the thing is how you react to it. You're either going to talk about it or you're going to try to shoot your way out of it and I'm going to try to shoot my way out of it."
Turkoglu had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Orlando Magic last season in the decisive seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinals to end Boston's hopes of repeating as NBA champions. He went to the Raptors over the summer and is now pestering the Celtics from inside the division.
But while the Magic are once again jockeying for position with Boston near the top of the conference, the Raptors are looking up at the Celtics from in the Atlantic Division. Toronto is in second place, but with a 7-10 record that puts it 5 1/2 games behind Boston.
New England Patriots Wes Welker and Adalius Thomas watched the game. ... The crowd gave a big cheer when the scoreboard announced that Charlotte had beaten Cleveland. ... Pierce was called for a technical after standing over Bosh following a monstrous dunk to open the fourth quarter. ... The Celtics had lost three straight Friday night home games.
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