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Crippled Celtics tame Raptors

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Boston Celtics shook off the absence of injured Jayson Tatum and the early exits of Marcus Smart and Robert Williams to beat the Toronto Raptors, 106-104, on Saturday and push their National Basketball Association winning streak to nine games.

Jaylen Brown scored 27 points and Grant Williams added a career-high 25 for the Celtics, who improved their league-best record to 35-12.

Coming off a gritty overtime win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, the Celtics trailed, 85-81, going into the fourth quarter.

But they opened the final frame with a 9-0 run courtesy of three-pointers from Brown, Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams and stayed in front until Toronto tied it up at 103-103 on Gary Trent Jr.’s three-pointer with 2:23 to play.

Pritchard, who scored all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, drained another three-pointer that proved to be enough after veteran Al Horford came up with a block and a steal in the final 10 seconds.
Malcolm Brogdon added 23 points off the bench for Boston, whose top scorer Tatum was sidelined with a sore left wrist.

Grant Williams said Tatum’s absence was no reason for the Celtics to surrender the mindset of an elite team gunning to get back to the NBA Finals for a second straight year after falling to Golden State in the title series.

“You can’t back down from any challenge, no matter if you’re down 12 guys, no matter if you’re down four, no matter if you’re down two, no matter if you’re a full team,” he said.

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