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Celtics 118, Raptors 102

Jaylen Brown looked like an All-Star, and other takeaways from the Celtics’ Christmas victory

Jaylen Brown scored 30 points Wednesday.Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

TORONTO — The Celtics fell behind by 10 points just two minutes into Wednesday’s game against the Raptors but had little trouble after that, as they welcomed back Gordon Hayward and rolled to a 118-102 win, their fourth in a row.

Jaylen Brown poured in 30 points on 10 of 13 shooting for Boston (21-7). The Celtics made 50 percent of their shots and 42.2 percent of their 3-pointers and held a 24-4 edge in second-chance points.

Some observations from the Christmas Day showdown:

■  Brown is an All-Star right now, and on Wednesday he showed why in the national spotlight that will only help his cause. Brown was spectacular in the third quarter, going 5 for 5 from the field and 3 for 3 on 3-pointers for 16 points, mixing in some fancy ball-handling with some daring step-backs, spins, and fadeaways. It might have been the most impressive offensive quarter of his career.

■  The Raptors are one of the few teams that has dealt with more significant injuries than Boston. On Wednesday they were without top contributors Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Normal Powell, and it became clear early on that they probably wouldn’t have the offensive firepower needed to find cracks in this pesky Celtics defense. Almost every possession was a chore, and Toronto tried throwing a mixture of zones at the Celtics but none really worked.


■  Here’s what Raptors coach Nick Nurse said about Celtics center Enes Kanter before the game:

“He’s a big problem for us. He’s a big problem because of his offensive rebounding. He’s a problem for everybody, but we get a little either light or short off the bench at the backup [center].”

Then Kanter took the floor and had 12 points and 6 rebounds in 12 first-half minutes. The Raptors saw it coming, but couldn’t really do anything about it. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds and now has four consecutive 10-rebound games.


■  Hayward returned after missing the last three games with a sore foot. His first shot was an open 3-pointer from the left corner and it missed badly. But he settled in after that, finding a comfort zone at the left elbow for a few pull-ups and runners. He did not seem to have any issues with his movement. He had 14 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

■  Even when Hayward was not scoring, his impact on the game was obvious. When teams must account for yet another 3-point shooting, slashing wing, it just opens up opportunities everywhere.

■  Rookies Grant Williams and Romeo Langford were in the Celtics’ first group of subs, the latest sign of coach Brad Stevens’s confidence in them. Williams left the game in the second quarter after dislocating his right index finger, but X-rays were negative and he returned later.

■  The 6-foot Kemba Walker was guarding the 6-8 OG Anunoby for stretches of the first half. Anunoby is not a dynamic offensive player but Toronto tried to exploit the size difference a few times. Walker held his ground, however, even drawing a charge when Anunoby tried to overpower him.

■  Jayson Tatum drew raves for his 39-point performance in the win over Charlotte on Sunday, but he has mostly struggled shooting the ball this season. His brief hot streak did not carry over into the first half of Wednesday’s game, when he went 1 for 10, the only basket coming on a putback layup. He was 5 for 18 overall, but did notch six assists, one shy of his career high.


■  Tatum’s worst shot came late in the first quarter. The Celtics had the ball and the chance to hold for the final shot. But Tatum fired up a long 3-pointer from the right arc with about 10 seconds he left. Toronto raced the other way and got two open attempts, but fortunately for the Celtics, neither went in.

■  Williams has left his 0 for 25 start on 3-pointers in the past with strong shooting recently, and in the first quarter he fired up perhaps his most ambitious attempt yet, an off-the-dribble step-back. The shot missed, but it was a good sign of confidence.

■  Later in the first quarter, Daniel Theis fed Williams for a wide open layup. Williams did not realize he was wide open, so he ducked and pump faked a nonexistent defender before putting the ball through the hoop. That was the end of a massive 22-4 run by the Celtics that erased their early 10-0 deficit.

■  We love good end-of-quarter heaves. Although Kanter’s try at the end of the half technically came after the buzzer, it was still pretty glorious. He grabbed a rebound and hurled a full-court one-armed fastball that soared into the fifth row of seats on the far left sideline. You could even hear the crowd gasp. Props for the attempt.


■  Your interesting coaches challenge of the day: With 8:52 left in the game, Tatum soared toward the hoop for a one-handed dunk that missed. After some discussion, the officials ruled it was offensive interference by Tatum. Brad Stevens’ knees buckled when the referees told him this. Then he challenged the call, and video showed Raptors forward Chris Boucher had hit the ball as it was going through the hoop, and Boston got two more points.

RELATED: Celtics-Raptors box score

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.