Raptors clinch playoff berth with win over Celtics
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) Amir Johnson was finishing up a phone call as a crowd of reporters gathered around his locker.
"My grandmother called and she said she's proud," a smiling Johnson said as he put the phone down.
She should be. Thanks to a timely bucket by her grandson, the Toronto Raptors are headed back to the NBA playoffs.
Johnson scored the winning basket with seven seconds left, and the Raptors clinched their first playoff berth in six seasons by beating the Boston Celtics 105-103 on Friday night.
"It's a satisfying, kind of overwhelming feeling," Johnson said. "But at the same time, you know you've still got a lot more to accomplish."
It's the first trip to the playoffs for DeRozan after four seasons of frustration.
"It makes it feel all worth it, honestly," he said. "The hard work, the struggles, the nights going home where you're just frustrated and don't want to turn on sports. It really shows you that if you stick at it and don't give up, not to sound cliched, but it definitely pays off."
The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors last reached the playoffs in 2007-08, losing to Orlando in five games in the first round. This is their sixth playoff berth in 19 seasons.
"This team has worked so hard," Johnson said. "It was a good game tonight and we deserved it."
Jerryd Bayless scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough for Boston, which has dropped three straight and eight of nine. Jeff Green scored 16 points, while Jared Sullinger, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley each had 11.
The Celtics dropped to 8-27 on the road.
"The difference in the game was (DeRozan) making the tough shots," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Toronto led 95-86 on back-to-back jump shots by DeRozan with 8:04 remaining, but Chris Johnson scored four points as Boston replied with an 8-0 run, causing the Raptors to call timeout.
Bayless put Boston in front with a jumper, and then followed a layup by Lowry with a 3, giving the Celtics a 99-97 edge with 3:56 left. Bayless went 8 for 13 from the field against his former team.
Olynyk pushed the lead to four with a layup, but Vasquez fed Lowry for a driving layup and then made a pair of free throws to tie it at 101 with 1:14 remaining.
After a Boston timeout, Lowry rebounded Green's missed shot, but Green hustled back to deny DeRozan a layup. Toronto kept the ball, and DeRozan put the Raptors ahead with a fadeaway jumper.
"It was a great shot," Stevens said.
Rondo tied it for the eighth time with a layup, and Toronto called timeout, advancing the ball to midcourt. Lowry couldn't convert a driving layup, but Johnson grabbed the rebound and banked it home to put the Raptors up by two.
Johnson and DeRozan are the longest serving Raptors, so Casey found it fitting that they played such pivotal roles in the outcome.
"They've been through thick and thin, through good times and bad times," Casey said.
Rondo inbounded the ball to Sullinger with three seconds left, but his shot bounced off the backboard as the buzzer sounded, sending the sellout crowd of 19,800 into joyous celebration.
"The energy in the building just erupted," DeRozan said. "It just shows you how much our fans back us. They stick with us though it all. It was definitely cool to get that reaction."
The Raptors started the game in a funk, missing five of their first six shots, but responded by hitting 10 of their next 12. Valanciunas scored 10 points in the first and Ross had nine as Toronto led 32-26 after one.
Lowry appeared to injure his right ankle when he got tangled up with Bradley after missing a 3 with just over three minutes to go in the second. Lowry was helped off the court but managed to walk to the locker room for treatment.
Green scored seven points in the second and Sullinger had six, but Toronto's Tyler Hansbrough scored a layup with less than a second remaining to give the Raptors a 56-53 lead at halftime.
Lowry had his ankle re-taped during the break and started the second half for Toronto, but DeRozan was the star of the third quarter. He scored 12 points as the Raptors took an 85-73 lead into the fourth.
Lowry said afterward that he was "a little sore," but played down the severity of the injury.
"I'm fine," he said. "Good to go."
NOTES: Green, who was bothered by a stiff neck in Wednesday's loss to Toronto, started for the Celtics. Stevens said Green was feeling "much better." ... Casey said F Patrick Patterson, out since March 7 with a sore right elbow, could return Sunday or Monday. "He's still sore but he's making great progress," Casey said. ... Lowry played in his 499th career game, but failed to reach the 20-point plateau for the first time in eight games. ... At 41-31, Toronto is guaranteed to finish at .500 or better for the sixth time in franchise history. ... The Raptors are 30-2 this season when leading after three quarters, including a 17-0 mark at home.
Updated March 28, 2014
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain how the Patriots held off the Jets, 17-16, Sunday at MetLife Stadium to improve to 12-3 and lock up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
Greg and Steve give their final thoughts and predictions for what is about to go down at MetLife Stadium today.
Curran calls the guys to discuss the game today and gets into the effect of having no Edelman. He talks about Amendola's role, the Pats running game and more.
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
Sam and Ben talk with Greg Dickerson about how fun this year's Celtics team is to watch as well Jeff Green trade ideas.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Jon talks about his experiences with free agency, what it would have taken to sign him to the Red Sox last season, and his experiences with fans since signing with the Cubs.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with newly signed Red Sox pitcher, Wade Miley. They talk about the story that came out about the D-Backs wanting him to switch to a gluten-free diet, and what he expects coming from the N.L. West to the A.L. East.
The boys are back at it, Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher and new Chicago Cub Jon Lester, they then talk with new Red Sox pitcher and ongoing consumer of gluten, Wade Miley.
Pierre joins the show to talk about the Bruins-Wild game, Bruins trade rumors, and the rest of the NHL.
Jack Edwards talks with Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton and drops the bomb on us that based on how the standings look now, the Bruins could miss the playoffs this season.
Pierre joins the guys to talk about the Bruins and all things NHL
Curtis spoke with some nut jobs outside the courtroom.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
Jeff Goodman discussed the Rondo trade.
Christian quizzes Lou and Tim on which songs were used for torture by the CIA, and Tim is upset he couldn't remember Team America: World Police
Adam Schefter, ESPN, joins MFB to discuss Jim Harbaugh rumors, Rex Ryan's future, and why the Patriots may be better served by not wraping up the number one seed in the AFC this week
Christian shares what he believes will be the three keys to this Sunday's game against the New York Jets
We check in with the playmaker, the hall of famer Michael Irvin for a look at the NFL and all things Patriots as they prepare to face the Jets.
Dale and Michael discuss the trade of Rajon Rondo, and whether it ultimately was a good deal for the Celtics.
We break down Rex and the Jets vs the Patriots with CSNNE's Tom E Curran
Kay comes into the show to try out for the textress role on the program. We learn about her favorite sports and fondness for Rajon Rondo.
Mikey, Mut, Lenny and Kerry Byrne are taling Patriots-Jets and the potential end of Rex Ryan's coaching career with the team.
Tonight marks 9 straight years of the Planet Mikey Show. We play some sound from the takeover which got Planet Mikey rolling .
Jen Royle joins the show to talk about The Taste and what its like working with amazing chefs and how her personality is going over with viewers.
What should Danny Ainge do with these Celtics? Is Anthony Davis the second best player in the NBA? Are the Warriors truly contenders?
Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy joins DJ to discuss the "uncoachable(?)" Taylor Hall and revisit the Tyler Seguin trade. Ryan also shares his issues with how the Bruins are run.
We check in with the playmaker, the hall of famer Michael Irvin for a look at the NFL and all things Patriots as they prepare to face the Jets.More from this show
Twas the Saturday before Christmas, Rooke and Scott Cordischi in the house taking your calls, texts tweets and emails (not so much). Listeners sound off on the week's best topics. An annual RI DIV I Tourney, Mr Rondo goes to Dallas and celebrating the plethora of Christmas tunesMore from this show