BOSTON — The Boston Celtics had two reasons to be thankful Wednesday night: Their five-game losing streak was finally over and a scary fall by point guard Rajon Rondo resulted in only a sore right wrist.
Rondo still led the Celtics with 21 points before leaving the game late in the third quarter of a 96-73 win over the Toronto Raptors, giving Boston its first win in two weeks.
“I got some wide open looks at the rim. I made some easy ones, I made some tough ones. I was just trying to stay aggressive,” said Rondo, who spent several frightening minutes on the floor after being leveled on a flagrant foul by Linas Kleiza with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
Gingerly holding his right wrist, Rondo got up, made one of two foul shots, then slowly walked to the locker room. X-rays showed no break and Rondo said he wanted to return, but the Celtics didn’t risk it.
They didn’t need to.
The Celtics blew open the game in the third quarter and led by at least 20 for much of the final period, ending their slide while extending the Raptors’ losing streak to six and holding Toronto to a season-low point total.
Kevin Garnett added 15 points and Paul Pierce had seven assists, five more than Rondo as the two made a surprise role reversal.
“His assists are going to happen because he’s a great passer,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. “Tonight was just one of those nights. He was basically just scoring and wasn’t getting assists. But it was good for the team.”
Reserves Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass also made big contributions for the Celtics. Pietrus made four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points and Bass had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
It was Boston’s first win since beating New Jersey 89-70 on Jan. 4.
“This is our second-longest winning streak this year,” Rondo said with a slight smile. “It’s a positive vibe right now in our locker room.”
Rondo said his wrist was still sore and described himself as day to day. The Celtics are at home again Friday night against Phoenix.
Toronto was without center Andrea Bargnani for the fourth straight game because of a calf strain and continued its slide, falling to 4-11 this season.
Gary Forbes scored 18 points and DeMar DeRozan had 11 for the Raptors, who couldn’t overcome a slow start in the third period after keeping the Celtics close in the first half.
“We were both desperate, but they were the more desperate team,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We knew they’d come out throwing haymakers. I thought we handled it in the first half, but didn’t in the third quarter.”
Boston pulled away during the third, then got a scare when Rondo was driving for a layup with 2:12 left in the period and was hit hard by Kleiza, who came down hard with his left arm and knocked Rondo to the floor. Rondo landed awkwardly on his back with his right hand and wrist getting crunched in between his body and the court.
Kleiza was initially called for a flagrant 2 foul, but officials reduced it to a flagrant 1 after reviewing the play.
The game was pretty much decided before then.
After cutting a 15-point deficit to 44-38 at halftime, the Raptors struggled with their shots in the third, going without a field goal until Ed Davis’ dunk 5:16 into the quarter.
The Raptors had just three free throws up to that point as Boston opened up a 53-41 lead despite some sloppy play of its own. The Celtics sharpened up midway through the period with a 13-2 run, getting six points from Bass and 3-pointers by Pietrus and Ray Allen while opening up a 68-46 lead.
The Raptors didn’t seem to have much left after that, even with the Celtics going nearly 5 minutes into the fourth quarter without a field goal.
“Right now we’re in a little bit of a slump the last six games,” Forbes said. “It’s something that’s correctable. We’re in every game pretty much in the third quarter. We’ve just got to get better.”
NOTES: The Raptors’ previous season-low was 77 points, done twice this season. … Rondo scored nine during a 13-0 run for Celtics, who held the Raptors without a field goal for 6:24 while pulling ahead 21-7 in the first quarter. After a miss by Kleiza, Rondo got the loose ball and took off for the basket, rolling in a layup with 0.9 seconds left and finished with 13 points in the period. … The Celtics’ 29 points were the most they’ve scored in the first quarter this season, topping their 28-point opener against Washington on Jan. 1. … The Raptors outscored the Celtics 24-15 in the second quarter. … Allen’s 3-pointer 1:52 into the third was his first field goal of the game. He finished with just six points for the Celtics.