The Celtics close Toronto behind Jason Tatum’s night with 10 assists, 109-97 – Boston Herald

Their final action has been found flawed recently – for a couple of seasons now, in fact – but for one night, the Celtics shut out with their best game on the floor.

Despite a 2-for-16, eight-point performance, Jayson Tatum set the tone with a performance of 10 assists and seven rebounds in the Celtics’ 109-97 victory over Toronto. Marcus Smart drove the offense with 21 points, seven assists and eight rebounds.

The Celtics took the lead four times in the third quarter before a 9-1 run triggered by four straight Al Horford points opened enough room for an 80-76 lead early in the fourth.

Tatum missed twice more in the first minute of the fourth, but the Celtics scored the first four points. Toronto reduced the lead to 84-81 on Svi Mykhailiuk’s second 3-pointer of the night, and the striker scored again for a one-point game before Josh Richardson opened up some space with a 3-pointer.

Richardson’s bomb triggered a 14-2 run that also included a coast-to-coast drive from Tatum, who then picked up his eighth assist by putting a smart 3-pointer up to a Celtics lead of 93-83 with 7 : 27 left. Smart also closed the race from the center to a lead of 98-85.

The Celtics then responded with a brief Toronto shower, largely thanks to work on the boards by Enes Kanter Freedom and Romeo Langford, with four straight points, including a Richardson jumper, for a 104-91 lead with 2:37 left.

Despite Tatum’s games in a 4-point first half, the Celtics took a 54-51 lead into the break, with Jaylen Brown (11 points), Grant Williams and Richardson (10 each) leading.

Tatum’s play, despite 10 turnovers in the first half from the team, had set the pace for the Celtics offensively. But they also turned it around 10 times in the first half and opened the third quarter at a similar pace, where there is a risk of error, with the Raptors equalizing the game to 62-62 on a Fred VanVleet 3-pointer.

Scottie Barnes equalized twice with 3-pointers early in the third. The Celtics took the lead back three times, and the Raptors twice thereafter, before the Celtics took the lead on two straight Horford rings – the second goal passed by Barnes.

Smart followed from the center for a 78-72 lead, which also triggered a 9-1 run that put the Celtics to an 80-76 lead at the end of the quarter.

Richardson, returning from a non-COVID-related illness, brought the Celtics back in the first quarter by scoring the final seven Celtics points, including a 3-pointer to a 27-26 C lead. All things considered, including the Celtics’ ongoing problems in the first quarter, it was as good a start as they have had in recent memory.

Richardson continued his one-man run with the first six points of the second quarter with a 3-pointer and a three-free-throw visit on the line. Including the final five points of the first quarter, the Celtics pushed out to a 35-26 lead with an extended 13-0 run.

Toronto came back, first with a 6-0 burst and then, after five straight points from Grant Williams, a Flynn four-point game that triggered a 9-2 Raptors run that reduced the Celtics’ lead to one point. The Celtics pushed their lead back as far as seven points before slipping into the break with a 54-51 edge.

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