Raptors clinch playoff berth with win over Celtics

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm •  Published: March 28, 2014
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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."

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points as the Raptors won for the 18th time in 24 home games. Terrence Ross had 17 points, Greivis Vasquez scored 15 and Jonas Valanciunas finished with 13.

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.



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