BOSTON — Jared Sullinger scored 25 points and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds as the Boston Celtics snapped a nine-game losing streak, holding off the Toronto Raptors 88-83 on Wednesday.
The first-place Raptors used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to start a rally that came up just short as both teams struggled through the final minutes.
Sullinger wound up sealing it for the Celtics on a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining, putting Boston up 86-81. He had just missed a pair from the foul line with 38.3 seconds to go that allowed Toronto’s comeback effort to continue.
Sullinger’s previous high was 17 rebounds and he was one point shy of his best scoring total.
Avery Bradley scored 20 and Phil Pressey had 10 assists for the Celtics, who won for the first time since beating Cleveland 103-100 on Dec. 28.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 and Kyle Lowry finished with 18 points and 12 assists for Toronto, which had won three straight.
The Raptors rallied from an 18-point deficit for a thrilling finish.
John Salmons and Novak hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth, and Amir Johnson’s three-point play pulled Toronto within 75-67 with 6:49 left to play. DeRozan added a dunk to make it an 11-0 run for the Raptors, whose surge continued when Novak’s 3-pointer cut Boston’s lead to 77-74.
The Celtics slowed the comeback, but failed to put away Toronto until the final minute.
Lowry grabbed a defensive rebound and drew a foul with 45 seconds to play. He made the first free throw and pulled Toronto within 81-78, then grabbed his own rebound after clanging his second foul shot off the rim. Sullinger stripped the ball and drew a foul, but missed both free throws with 38 seconds left, leaving the door open for the Raptors.
Sullinger redeemed himself on the next possession when he grabbed the rebound off a miss by DeRozan, drew a foul and made both shots from the line to extend Boston’s lead to 83-78 with 29.4 seconds remaining.
Kris Humphries made a jumper in the lane to put Boston up 55-47 and start the Celtics on a 10-2 run. Sullinger kept it going when he squared up from the top of the key and hit a 3-pointer with 2:46 left, giving the Celtics their largest lead of the game at 63-50 lead and prompting a time out by the Raptors.
DeRozan converted a three-point play with 2.3 seconds left in the third, but that was enough time for Sullinger to score again. Wallace heaved the inbound pass to Sullinger just inside the foul line. Sullinger dribbled and hit a turnaround jumper at the buzzer that gave the Celtics a 73-56 lead entering the fourth.
Toronto shot 10-for-20 from the floor in the first quarter, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
Sullinger pulled down nine rebounds in the first half, eight in the second quarter.
NOTES: Celtics PG Rajon Rondo was on the bench in uniform for the first time this season. Rondo has been out since Jan. 25, 2013, with a torn ACL in his right knee. … Boston PG Avery Bradley was treated for a bruised right hand after leaving the game in the first quarter. He returned in the second and led Boston with 16 points in the first half. … The Celtics acquired C Joel Anthony earlier Wednesday in a three-team deal with the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors. G Jordan Crawford and G/F MarShon Brooks went from Boston to Golden State. The Celtics also received a conditional first-round draft pick the Warriors previously acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers, a second-round pick from the Heat in 2016 and cash considerations.