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Tip In: Rondo and Co. Get Even in 110-101 Victory Over Raptors

A painful loss in more ways than one, the Toronto Raptors lost last night's match to the Boston Celtics and a key member of their personnel in the process.

Editor's Note:  The HQ is expanding!  Since about the end of last season it became clear to the team that they could use a few extra resources to help on the content side, so last month they put out the call to Ryerson's School of Journalism here in Toronto, seeking interns.  They've narrowed their list down to a few final candidates, but want readers help in deciding who eventually rounds out the team.  To that end, the HQ will be posting work from the finalists, and at the end of it, will seek feedback from you, the readers, as to who should get the gig!

We had our first two intern submission earlier this week, and here's our third courtesy of Jeyan Jeganathan, contestant number three...



If Kevin Garnett is really like rapper Jay-Z (as Reggie Evans put it during a Pregame interview), he's got 99 problems but (yesterday) Bargnani ain't one.

Garnett bounced back from his last game against the Raptors, registering his league leading seventh double-double of the season with 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics downed the Toronto Raptors 110 to 101.

But it was KG's tough guy approach had the biggest effect.

"Kevin's energy tonight was off the charts," said Doc Rivers. "You knew it would be if you know Kevin after the loss last Sunday. He was just athletic tonight."  The reigning Eastern Conference Champs took the lead early, shooting over 50 per cent from the field, and they didn't let up.  

The Celtics started the game on fire, making their first 6 field goals and recording 13 assists on their first 13 made field goals. The Raptors showed resiliency, although they never held a lead throughout the entire game. The Dinos defiantly kept the game close heading into the half.

Rajon Rondo also came out of the gates strong.

Rondo, who had been out due to a sore hamstring, had an immediate impact, dishing out 8 of his 14 assists in the first quarter alone. For someone who had missed three games, you really couldn't tell he was injured...well other than his 8 turnovers.

But it was Garnett who was the ultimate difference maker in this one.  He wasted no time and attacked Bargnani, scoring the first two buckets of the game for the Celtics.

Bargnani fought back, but he just couldn't get things rolling. He shot 4-13 from the field for 11 points for the game, well below his average of 27 points and +50 per cent shooting from the floor during the team's 4-game winning streak.

Linas Kleiza lead the way for the Raptors with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Jose Calderon chipped in with 12 points and a season high 15 assists. The Raptors had six players reach double digit figures as their bench outscored Boston's 63-29. The Raptors clawed themselves back several times, thanks in part to 17 offensive rebounds.

But it just wasn't enough.

Shaquille O'Neal had a big performance with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Most impressive was his shooting percentage as he uncharacteristically made 6 of 8 from the charity stripe. Glen "Big Baby" Davis had 18 of the 29 bench points for the Celtics.

Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan were non factors in tonight's match-up. Weems scored 16 points in Toronto's win against the C's last Sunday, but on Friday was held to zero points and 0-9 from the field. This was only the second time in ten games where Weems scored less than 10 points. DeMar DeRozan had 8 points in limited minutes.

But the biggest story here was the loss of Reggie Evans.

Evans left the game late in the third quarter after injuring his right foot and didn't return.

And may not for a while.

The post-game diagnosis was a right foot fracture, and Jay Triano has already stated that Amir Johnson will get the start on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.  Evans had been an MVP candidate for the Raptors so far this season, and his loss suddenly leaves a huge hole up front.

The positive spin of course is that maybe Ed Davis and Joey Dorsey get major run and Evans isn't out for too long, therefore allowing him to retain his trade value.

The negative spin is that the team misses not only his rebounding and hustle on the court, but his leadership and grit off of it and the team falls into a tailspin they can never recover from.

It also means fans get to see just how valuable Andrea Bargnani is, as he'll now have to focus a lot more on the glass then simply on scoring.

The encouraging thing is that even without Reggie last night, and after being outscored 28-15 in the third quarter, the Raptors made a run of their own in the fourth. Jay Triano's international line-up provided a well need scoring punch, nailing five consecutive three point shots and cutting a once 22 point deficit within 6, with five minutes left in the fourth.

"We tried, but we put ourselves in a bad position throughout the game," said Peja Stojakovic, who had 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter of play. "It was a big point differential, especially against a team like Boston,"

A "much more talented team like Boston."

You could admire the Raptors fight in this one, but with Rondo back and KG playing like it was 2002, it was a tough task from the get go, and Boston's starters simply outclassed those of the Dinos.

We'll see if the Raps can get back on track Sunday, another tough task now minus Mr. Evans.