Celtics pull away in fourth to top Raptors, 110-99

(Reuters) Marcus Morris had 25 points and nine rebounds and Jayson Tatum scored 24 as the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 110-99 in a battle of Eastern Conference powerhouses last  night in Boston.

Terry Rozier added 21 and seven assists and Al Horford had 14 points for the Celtics, who earned their sixth straight victory and pulled within two games of the Raptors for first place in the East with six games remaining for each team.

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 32 points with seven assists and seven rebounds, Serge Ibaka had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 and 11 for Toronto, which suffered its fourth loss in the last seven games following an 11-game win streak.

The Raptors beat the Celtics 111-91 at home in their most recent meeting on Feb. 6, but lost the first game of the season series 95-94 on Nov. 12 in Boston. The two teams play again Wednesday night in Boston.

DeRozan’s floater off the glass with 0.7 seconds left in the third quarter put the Raptors up 84-82 entering the fourth.

A running layup by DeRozan knotted the score at 94 with 5:26 remaining in the final period, but Horford’s reverse layup and ensuing free throw with 5:05 on the clock put Boston up two and sparked a game-clinching run for the Celtics.

Morris knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:18 left and Tatum’s finger roll at 3:19 put Boston ahead 104-94. Kyle Lowry’s three with 3:04 to play gave the Raptors life, but Boston iced the game at the free-throw line in the final minute.

Toronto led 55-53 after a first half in which neither side led by more than five points. The Raptors were also up 33-31 after 12 minutes.

Boston is at Milwaukee on Tuesday, while the Raptors visit the Cavaliers before Wednesday’s rematch in Boston.

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