BOSTON (AP) _ Rajon Rondo made up for lost time in a big way for the Boston Celtics after missing a game because of a sprained right ankle.
Rondo had 20 assists for the second time this season and added six points to help the Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 107-89 on Saturday.
Jason Terry scored 20 points, Paul Pierce added 19 points and six rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter, and Kevin Garnett scored 15 points in 17 minutes of playing time.
The Celtics held big leads early and late, but had to survive several surges in between while winning for the fourth time in five games. And any worries Boston fans might have had about Rondo’s ankle were quickly washed away when he had seven assists in the first quarter.
“We have an offense and then he creates another offense at times,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said.
Rondo appeared at full strength after sitting out a loss at Brooklyn on Thursday night. He had 11 assists at halftime, extending his streak of consecutive games with double-digit assists to 33.
“Something I look forward to every game is just trying to make my teammates happy. And somehow I keep getting to 10,” Rondo said.
“Tonight it was a collective team effort as far as assists.” The Celtics had assists on 37 of 43 field goals, with Rondo leading the way and finishing just four shy of his career high.
Rondo, who played only 1:26 in the fourth quarter, is within four games of tying John Stockton for the second-longest streak in NBA history for consecutive games with 10 or more assists. Magic Johnson holds the record at 46.
“I’m making some OK passes _ just taking what the defense gives me,” Rondo said. “It means my teammates are making shots.”
Garnett was 6 for 7 from the field, and Terry 7 of 10, including four 3-pointers in his highest- scoring game as a member of the Celtics. Rookie Jared Sullinger had his first career double-double
with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Andrea Bargnani and John Lucas led Toronto with 15 points apiece. DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon, Terrence Ross and Linas Kleiza added 10 each for Toronto.
Boston shot 56.6 percent against the struggling Raptors, who are off to a 2-7 start, and all 10 Celtics who played had at least two field goals.
“We can’t afford to play such bad defense _ especially against this type of team,” Bargnani said. “One day we play good defense and then there are games like today where we play very bad defense, so I can’t say it’s getting better. We have to focus more and give a better effort.”
The Celtics scored 11 straight over the end of the third quarter and first few minutes of the fourth to go up by 21 points.
Chris Wilcox dunked an alley-oop on Rondo’s 19th assist, then Terry made another 3-pointer to put Boston up 79-64 entering the fourth.
Rondo left the game shortly after reaching 20 assists early in the fourth. He also had 20 assists against Philadelphia on Nov. 9.
After trailing by as much as 17 in the first quarter, Toronto regrouped in the second and chipped into the lead with a 13-4 run.
Lucas’ 3-pointer with 2:35 left pulled the Raptors to 42-39, but Pierce had a three-point play and the Celtics led 47-42 at halftime.
Boston was still out of sync early in the third and a few fans started booing when DeRozan’s layup pulled Toronto to 55-53 with 6:38 left in the quarter.
Bargnani got Toronto close again with a pair of free throws, 63-61, with 3:30 left in the third. But Terry hit two 3-pointers as Boston went on an 11-1 run.
Notes: Toronto was coming off a win at Indiana on Tuesday night and has yet to win back-to-back games this season. … Boston was playing for the third time in four days and has a game at Detroit on Sunday night. … Sullinger’s previous highs in his brief career were six points and seven rebounds. … Calderon had nine of
Toronto’s 22 assists. … Boston tied its season high for points, matching its total in a 120-107 loss to Miami in the opener.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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