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Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry dribbles past Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics on Feb. 6, 2018.John E. Sokolowski

Kyrie Irving stood disappointed in the visitor's locker room of the Air Canada Centre late Tuesday, describing how Kyle Lowry cooked his team with his pull-up jumpers, and how confident the Toronto Raptors' impressive young bench players look.

The Raptors looked like a team gunning for the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, as they trounced Irving's East-leading Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, 111-91. The second-place Raptors, now 37-16, climbed to within one game of the 39-16 Celtics in the standings.

Lowry led the Raptors with 23 points -- including six three-pointers—while DeMar DeRozan chipped in 15, and the star backcourt got to sit down early and let the reserves finish things out. C.J. Miles added 20 – with five threes.

Boston's pair of five-time NBA all-stars were held in check – the two highlights of Toronto's scouting report. Kyrie Irving, just back from a week-long layoff, scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Al Horford had just two points and six rebounds, and neither saw the court in the fourth quarter.

"We've seen it for a couple years now, I've seen it a few years," said Irving of his fellow All-Star point guard Lowry. "When he starts shooting those pull-up jumpers, going left, he's tough to stop."

It was Toronto's third straight win.

The game was billed as a battle of Eastern Conference gladiators, a chance to see how the Raptors might handle the Celtics if they should meet late in this year's playoffs. Instead, it was a strange beat-down with more highlights from youngsters than all-stars.

The first-place Celtics visited Toronto on a four-game win streak, two games up on the Raptors in the East. Boston came in 18-7 on the road this year, and had beat Toronto 95-94 at TD Garden back in November – without Irving. At the time, the Raptors were still finding their way in their new ball-moving, three-point-focused system. That wasn't the case in Toronto in this meeting.

The teams are now 1-1 in their four-game season series, with two more meetings to take place in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Irving and Marcus Morris, who had missed recent games to injury, were easing back into the lineup that had in the past week been led by Boston's youngsters.

Lowry seemed still to be inspired from his special weekend excursion. On Sunday, right after his own game, he flew to Minneapolis to see his hometown Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl. After flying back that night, he arrived at the Raptors practice facility Monday in a championship t-shirt, telling reporters he'd take only Eagles questions. Tuesday night, the in-stadium announcer reminded the Air Canada Centre crowd that the All-Star point guard was "from the Super Bowl-winning city of Philadelphia."

Lowry jumped out to ten first-quarter points -- including a trio of three-pointers – and nabbed four rebounds to put the Raptors up 22-18 in a low-scoring opening stanza.

The young Raptors bench came out Tuesday and lived up to that praise, building on the first-quarter lead harvested by the starters and outscoring Boston's bench 30-15 by half-time.

Delon Wright (14 points) dazzled with moves likes an imposing lay-in over the head of Irving, an opportunistic steal, and the delivery of a picturesque alley-oop pass to Pascal Siakam. Fred Van Vleet (10 points) was zipping the ball and his shooting was on point.

"They play like an experienced, veteran group that played together all summer and then came in and tried to make a statement, cementing themselves as the best second unit in the league and they have confidence in themselves," said Irving.

The half-time score was shocking. Toronto was up 58-37. It was the fewest points Toronto had allowed in a half all season.

The game never got close. There was little highlight-reel stuff from the Celtics. It was hardly the squad that has been the talk of the NBA this season, with Irving, Horford and promising youngsters like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.

The road-warrior Celtics struggled to meet Toronto's intensity on Tuesday, and the Raps now tote an NBA-leading 22-4 record at home.

"We got our butts kicked  by a really good team who physically overwhelmed us, from a speed and physicality standpoint," said Boston coach Brad Stevens. "I thought their pace and their physicality were different from ours."

For a third straight game, Toronto was able to rest all of its starters in the fourth quarter.

Lowry, nor any of his teammates were taking the bait of those hoping the Raptors would pump their chests about beating the East's top team.

"Nothing, it's one game. We did our job," said an unemotional Lowry. "The second unit played extremely well in the second quarter and got us the lead. We played well. It's one game."

The New York Knicks visit Toronto on Thursday.

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