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The Toronto Raptors’ second-quarter resurgence was as impressive as it was unexpected on Tuesday night, after an opening frame against the Boston Celtics in which their offensive performance was muted at best.

But as the second quarter progressed at Scotiabank Arena, the Raptors could do no wrong and the Celtics could do no right.

Boston was outscored 36-13 in as dominant a quarter as Toronto has produced this season and it set the tone as the Raptors recorded a satisfying 118-95 victory that sent a clear who’s-the-boss-now message to their Eastern Conference rival.

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Toronto Raptors guard Jeremy Lin takes a shot during second half NBA basketball action against the Boston Celtics in Toronto on Feb. 26, 2019.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

The Celtics arrived in Toronto in a feisty mood, having lost their previous two games, although secure in the knowledge they had beaten the Raptors in their previous two meetings. But they were shockingly inept in losing their third in a row to a Toronto team that showed no mercy.

“We started the game real physical and it set the tone in the first,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. We were down 32-30 and it felt like it should have been about 32-20 in our favour.

“And in the second quarter all that stuff I thought was going to happen started happening because of our energy and physicality.”

Kyrie Irving, Boston’s all-world guard, has feasted upon the Raptors this season, going off for 43 points in a 123-116 overtime win for the Celtics on Nov. 23. On Jan. 16, Irving recorded a career-high 18 assists to go along with a team-best 27 points in a 117-108 Boston win.

Nurse said before the game – somewhat surprisingly – that the Raptors did not try to implement any special schemes in order to try to contain Irving’s offence in either of those earlier games.

He hinted that Irving would be subjected to some special attention on Tuesday.

“It’s a lot like any great scorer, for us we’re going to try to throw some different bodies at him, multiple bodies at him, multiple coverages at him,” Nurse said. “We haven’t done much other than guard him straight up to be honest. We may try a few different things [in Tuesday’s game] just to see how they’ll look.”

It looked just fine as Irving, who went into the game averaging a team-best 23.8 points, was rendered almost invisible and finished with just seven points of 3-of-10 shooting. Irving did not see any playing time in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were all over the place defensively,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “When I say all over the place, we were taking a lot of shortcuts and that hurt us. But that stretch [in the second] certainly hurt.

“When you score [33] in the first and you are sitting at 38 with three minutes to go in the second, it’s not a good thing.”

Toronto’s Pascal Siakam soared for 25 points while hitting 10 of his 16 shots. Kawhi Leonard added 21 points while Kyle Lowry chipped in with seven points, 11 assists and six rebounds.

The game was broadcast back to the United States on TNT, the 12th time this season the Raptors have been shown network love south of the border. In total, the Raptors will have 16 of their games televised to a U.S. audience before the end of the regular season, the most since Vince Carter was a local deity back in the early 2000s.

“I think our guys love it,” Nurse said. “It adds a little bit more juice to the game for them than a Tuesday night against an under-.500 team or something like that.”

A rather ragged opening quarter ended with the Celtics, who connected on 52.2 per cent (12 of 23) of their shots, leading 32-30. Siakam kept it close for Toronto, sinking three of his four offerings from three-point territory while recording 11 points.

Toronto started to roll in the second quarter, an impressive offensive jaunt that was initiated by a hustling Lowry, who flung his body to the ground at the top of the key while making a scoop pass to Norman Powell, who was situated in three-point territory.

Powell made the shot and it was quickly followed by another three by Marc Gasol and Toronto’s lead was up to 39-34.

Lowry absorbed a charge from Jaylen Brown to cause another Boston turnover and the Raptors were well on their way to a 14-0 jaunt that crept their lead up to 48-34.

Nothing was going Boston’s way.

Irving had been kept muzzled and his mood darkened when he was dribbling the ball up court and placed a forearm into the chest of Danny Green, who pitched backward like he’d been struck by a cannonball. Irving was called for an offensive foul.

The Raptors hit on 14 of their 26 shots (53.8 per cent) in the second quarter while the Celtics connected on only four field goals out of 15 attempts.

It all amounted to the Raptors waltzing off the floor with an inspiring 66-45 advantage at the half.

Toronto kept the hammer down in the third quarter where Siakam got a nice shooter’s roll with the ball finally falling through the iron to extend the Raptors’ lead to 26 points – 90-64.

Toronto’s lead stretched to as many as 31 in the quarter before settling on a 95-68 bulge heading into the fourth.

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