Basketball

Raptors rout Celtics, Pistons out of play-off race

Friday, April 06, 2018

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 16 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 96-78 on Wednesday as the battle for the NBA's Eastern Conference supremacy heads down to the wire.

Every Raptors player but one recorded at least two points and the Raptors crushed the Celtics to equal their franchise record in wins for the season while extending their lead atop the standings.

The Raptors now have a three-game cushion over the Celtics for first place in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

“I am very confident we can get it done. We got a great opportunity, but we still got to go ahead, be professional, and finish games out,” said all-star guard Kyle Lowry.

Lowry delivered 13 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Raptors improved to 56-22 on the season. It was Lowry's highest scoring outing in the past four games and, even more importantly, it halted the team's two-game losing skid.

Fred VanVleet came off the bench for 15 points, while Delon Wright had eight points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Marcus Morris scored 21 points for the Celtics, who dropped to 53-25.

With a win on Wednesday, Boston would have won the tiebreaker between the two teams and moved to just a game back of Toronto for first in the conference.

The Raptors had five losses in their past 10 heading into the contest, including a 90-110 defeat in Boston on Sunday.

In Detroit, J J Redick scored 25 points as the Philadelphia 76ers won their 12th-straight game with a 115-108 win over Detroit, eliminating the Pistons from the play-off race.

The Sixers are rolling along without star Joel Embiid who missed a fourth-straight game because of a concussion and surgery to repair a facial fracture.

The Pistons had their five-game winning streak snapped, and their defeat clinched a post-season spot for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Eastern Conference play-off field is now set, although the actual matchups are still being determined.

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