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Losing continues for injury-plagued Raptors with 109-97 defeat to Celtics

·3 min read

TORONTO — The losses continue to mount for the injury-riddled Toronto Raptors.

Marcus Smart scored 21 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 109-97 victory over Toronto on Sunday in the Raptors' first game of seven in a row at home – Toronto's longest homestand of the season.

Fred VanVleet had 27 points, while rookie Scottie Barnes added 21 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors (9-12), who've lost nine of their last 12 games. Pascal Siakam finished with 18 points and seven boards, Svi Mykhailiuk had 12 points, and Precious Achiuwa grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Al Horford had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Boston (11-10).

The Raptors were home after a six-game road trip that saw them win just twice. They have been hit hard by injuries, losing OG Anunoby to a hip injury just one game into the trip. He's now missed six straight. The Raptors were also without Gary Trent Jr. on Sunday, who sustained a deep calf bruise in Friday's loss at Indiana, and Khem Birch (knee swelling).

Trailing 84-78 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Mykhailiuk scored five straight points to pull Toronto to within a point, but Smart had a pair of three-pointers as part of a 14-2 Celtics run for a 13-point lead with 6:21 to play. 

When Josh Richardson stole the ball off Barnes and scored with two-and-a-half minutes to play, fans headed toward the Scotiabank Arena exits.  

Prior to tipoff, the Raptors announced veteran guard Goran Dragic has left the Raptors due to a personal matter. GM Bobby Webster said in a statement that the 35-year-old, acquired in the deal that saw Kyle Lowry leave for Miami, had the full support of the club. Dragic has been used sparingly in favour of the team's developing young guards such as Trent Jr. and Dalano Banton, appearing in just five games.

"Goran is, first of all, a really good dude," Raptors coach Nurse said. "Extremely professional, very wise with all his experience internationally and all his years in the NBA. He's an enjoyable guy to be around and to coach."

Neither team led by double digits through the first half. The Raptors shot a horrible 4-for-13 from three-point range in the first quarter, but managed to stay within four points of Boston, and trailed 27-26 to start the second.

Boston opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run to take a nine-point lead, but the Raptors battled back to within a point with a solid stretch that saw Yuta Watanabe drill a three-pointer, then a steal by Barnes, who launched a court-long pass to a sprinting Siakam who finished with a thunderous dunk. Toronto trailed 54-51 at halftime.

Barnes had three three-pointers and 12 points in a third quarter that saw the Raptors tie it up six times.

The Raptors finish out the calendar year with 12 of 15 games at home. Next up is the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2021. 

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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