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DeRozan leads revamped Raptors to victory over Celtics

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan celebrates a three-pointer during the second half of NBA basketball action against the Boston Celtics.

Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Less than three minutes into Toronto's Eastern Conference battle against Boston on Friday, Serge Ibaka swatted away a shot by Isaiah Thomas then scored on a long pullup jumper on Toronto's next possession.

The crowd roared as the ball bounced around the rim before finally dropping through the hoop.

On a night DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points, Ibaka made his Toronto debut a memorable one. The newcomer scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help a retooled Raptors team that was missing Kyle Lowry to a 107-97 win over the Boston Celtics.

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Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson had 11 points apiece for Toronto (34-24). Lowry missed the game with a right wrist injury.

Thomas led Boston (37-21) with 20 points.

P.J. Tucker, playing his first game as a Raptor in about a decade, finished with a team-high 10 rebounds, including two huge ones in the final minute-and-a-half, plus nine points. Tucker, who was originally drafted by Toronto in 2006, was acquired by the Raptors at Thursday's trade deadline, and didn't arrive in town until 9:30 Friday morning.

The Raptors were among the busier teams at the trade deadline, shipping Terrence Ross to Orlando for Ibaka, then picking up Tucker, much to the relief of Raptors fans who watched helplessly as the team plummetted down the Eastern Conference standings in recent weeks.

They went into Friday night in fourth place in the East, four games back of the second-place Celtics.

Playing their first game in nine days, the Raptors trailed by as many as 17 points but when Ibaka drilled a three-pointer with 5:58 to play in the third, it capped a spirited 18-7 run that gave the Raptors their first lead since the game's opening minutes.

Marcus Smart drilled a three with 3.9 seconds to go to send Boston into the fourth quarter with a 77-74 lead.

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The Celtics led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but when DeMarre Carroll knocked down a three-pointer with 3:27 to play, it put Toronto up by two points. DeRozan added a long jumper, and it was a four-point Raptors lead in front of a delighted capacity crowd of 19,800 that included Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

A basket by Jae Crowder pulled Boston to within three, but DeRozan replied with a long jumper with a minute to play that all but sealed Toronto's victory. When DeRozan went to the free throw line in the dying seconds, the crowd serenaded him with chants of "M-V-P!"

The Raptors shot 49 per cent on the night, and outrebounded Boston 40-36. The Raptors gave up 19 points on 11 turnovers — no surprise with their revamped roster.

Lowry, who sat alongside the coaches in a charcoal grey suit, injured his wrist in the Feb. 15 game versus Charlotte, but played in the NBA all-star game four days later in New Orleans.

"He thought it was going to get better," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "(He) had treatment over the all-star break, down in New Orleans. Came back (Thursday) night, got treatment and woke up this morning and it wasn't any better."

Tests on Friday showed the injury was more serious than first expected.

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"There's going to be more images next week, so that's a blow. A huge blow for us," Casey said.

The Raptors looked discombobulated at the beginning of the game, allowing the Celtics to shoot 55 per cent in the first quarter and take a 29-18 lead into the second.

The Celtics stretched their lead to 17 points in a second quarter that saw some heated moments. Carroll whacked Thomas with a flagrant foul while chasing him down, and the pint-sized point guard leapt back to his feet and went straight at Carroll, wagging a finger, while teammates held him back. Toronto closed the frame on a 7-0 run, and Boston went into the halftime break up 55-45.

The Raptors host Portland on Sunday, are in New York to face the Knicks on Monday, then play Eastern rival Washington back to back — Wednesday in Toronto, and Friday in D.C.

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