The Boston Celtics appeared to be well on their way to a monumental road win as they built up a 16-point second-half lead over the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
Sitting one game back in the Atlantic Division standings, Boston badly wanted to come away with a victory. But a monstrous fourth-quarter run by the home team cut its dreams short as Toronto battled back for a 114-106 win.
The Celtics led 100-91 with exactly half a quarter remaining when DeMar DeRozan and Raptors began to make their late-game run.
DeRozan went off for 12 points during the final six minutes, while the Celtics only managed to score half of that tally as a team. The All-Star guard completely killed Boston’s momentum as he hit shot after shot from inside the arc.
His two biggest buckets came during the final minute and 30 seconds, as he hit a tough turnaround jumper over Isaiah Thomas to give Toronto a 108-104 lead, and then made an off-balance baseline jumper over Jae Crowder that extended the Raptors’ lead to six points with 1:04 remaining.
The Celtics had run out of juice by that point, as Toronto finished them off and doubled its division lead over Boston.
DeMar DeRozan gave the Raptors a massive spark Tuesday night as he scored 31 of his game-high 41 points during the second half. But it’s hard to argue that he had a bigger impact than Toronto’s 7-foot center, Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas acted like a black hole under the hoop all night long. He corralled a career-high 23 rebounds – 11 of which came on the offensive end.
By comparison, Boston only managed to grab six offensive rebounds as a team.
Valanciunas also notched 18 points and had two huge blocks during the final 81 seconds of regulation that helped Toronto clinch the win.