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Studs and duds: Careless Celtics can’t overcome Kyle Lowry, Raptors, drop fourth straight 03.18.16 at 9:53 pm ET
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Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) dribbles past Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the second quarter at Air Canada Centre. (Peter Llewellyn/USA Today Sports)

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) dribbles past Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the second quarter at Air Canada Centre. (Peter Llewellyn/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics had the heart but not the head Friday night.

Kyle Lowry went 5-of-8 from 3-point range and scored 32 points to lead the Raptors to a 105-91 win over the Celtics Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Celtics (39-30) faced a pair of 19-point first-half deficits and cut it down to five points twice in the third quarter before self-destructing in the fourth quarter. 

Boston committed six turnovers in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter and Lowry scored 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to send the Celtics to their fourth straight loss, their longest skid of the season and their longest since losing four straight, Dec. 21-27, 2014. 

The Celtics were again led by Isaiah Thomas, who scored 20 points. The only other Boston player in double figures was Evan Turner (12 points), who replaced Marcus Smart in the lineup. 

Playing without Jae Crowder (missing his third straight game with a high ankle sprain) and Jonas Jerebko (missing his second straight with an Achilles injury), the Celtics had no answers for Luis Scola in the first quarter. The Raptors, playing their fourth game in five nights, took advantage of the front-court deficiency as Scola made 6-of-8 from the field and scored a remarkable 17 points in the first 12 minutes. 

The Celtics didn’t help themselves with seven turnovers in the opening quarter that led to 11 Toronto points. The Raptors led 30-14 after one. 

The Celtics appeared close to getting blown off the court by the Raptors in the second quarter, falling behind by as many as 19 points twice, 40-21 and 53-34. Stevens desperately searched his bench for any kind of answer, putting in R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey at one point. The Celtics took the best shot from Toronto and hung tough, making a bit of a run late in the second quarter, cutting the deficit down to 14, 55-41 at the half. 

The Celtics made a big run at the Raptors late in the third quarter, cutting the lead all the way down to five, 74-69, before Terrence Ross hit a corner three. That was followed by a runner from DeMar DeRozan.

Hunter hit a corner three with 0.4 left in the third that capped a 31-point quarter for the Celtics and again brought the C’s within five, 79-74, heading into the fourth. But the Celtics couldn’t take care of the ball when it mattered most, committing six turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth, two of which led directly to 3-pointers from Lowry. 

The Raptors opened the fourth with six straight points and eventually raced out to a 93-76 lead. The Celtics fell to 0-44 when trailing by at least 19 points at any point in the three-year Brad Stevens era. 

The Celtics play in Philadelphia Sunday night at 6 p.m. before returning home for a game against the Magic at the Garden Monday night. 

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors,
Jonas Jerebko out 2nd straight game with Achilles injury that is ‘not a long term thing’ at 8:40 pm ET
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Jonas Jerebko missed his second straight game Friday night in Toronto. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Jonas Jerebko missed his second straight game Friday night in Toronto. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

The injury bug has picked a bad time to hit the Celtics. 

Already without Jae Crowder due to a high sprain of his right ankle, forward Jonas Jerebko didn’t even make the trip to Toronto, staying home in Boston to get treatment of a sore Achilles. 

After not playing in Boston’s 130-109 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Jerebko remaining in Boston to get treatment. Stevens told reporters in Toronto before Friday’s game that he would miss Friday’s game and Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters that Jerebko was not with the team in Toronto.

“We left him at home to get treatment,” Stevens said. “It’s not a long-term thing.”

Without Crowder and Jerebko, Stevens was stripped of two of his most versatile post players, and it showed early. Luis Scola went off for 17 points as the Raptors built a 19-point first-half lead. 

Jerebko could be back in time for Monday’s game against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics could use him right about now. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko
Kevin Durant tells everyone to chill about Boston talk: ‘They ran with that one’ at 7:35 pm ET
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Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives the ball against  Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the first half Wednesday at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives the ball against Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) in the first half Wednesday at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Impending free agent Kevin Durant is calling for a little perspective when it comes to cities he might choose in free agency this summer.

First of all, there’s a good chance that the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar might sign a one-year contract (likely back in Oklahoma City) to reach his 10-year vested veteran rights that would allow teams to pay him and have his salary take up 35 percent of the payroll.

Durant will also likely take advantage of the exploding salary cap. The cap is expect to grow by $40 million over the next two seasons.

Secondly, there will be many teams and cities that could make a push for him.

So, it’s a little presumptuous to think that just because he had kind words for the city of Boston that means that’s his preference.

“I love being in Philly, too,” Durant told reporters at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia Friday morning before Friday’s Thunder-Sixers game. “If you ask me about a city, I like being there. I’m not going to say anything bad about it. That’s how I am. I’m not going to watch what I say. Because I know how I’m saying it and my intentions in saying it. People are going to pick and choose what they want to write and I can’t control that.

“But I can control what I say. And I’m not going to hold my tongue or answer things differently or walk on egg shells because I don’t want stuff written about me. 

Responding to the reports earlier in the day at the Thunder’s shootaround at TD Garden, Celtics fans chanted “Come to Boston” at Durant during the game. Durant scored 28 points in Oklahoma City’s 130-109 win. 

“I’m just gonna be who I am,” Durant added. “Of course people are going to say stuff. I like playing in Boston, like the city, it’s a cool city, they ran with that one. But I know how it is. It’s all good.”

WEEI.com’s Ben Rohrbach broke down why it’s highly unlikely Durant is coming to Boston this summer. But a little wishful thinking never hurt. But as Durant reminded everyone Friday, it also wouldn’t hurt to just keep those expectations realistic.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, NBA, NBA trade talk
More rewarding: Celtics sign Coty Clarke to 2nd 10-day contract at 11:33 am ET
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Coty Clarke meets with reporters on March 7 after signing a 10-day contract. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Coty Clarke meets with reporters on March 7 after signing a 10-day contract. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Call it another reward for Coty Clarke.

The 6-foot-7 forward was inked Friday to another 10-day contract by the Celtics. When the Celtics initially signed him to a 10-day deal on March 7, coach Brad Stevens said Clarke was being “rewarded” for the hard work and production he showed for the Celtics’ D-League affiliate in Maine.

In the 10 days since, Clarke has seen some significant action off the Celtics bench.

He’s appeared in two games, scoring three points and grabbing a rebound in three minutes of game action. The three points came on his first shot of his NBA career, a 3-pointer from the right wing in the first half of Tuesday’s loss at Indiana.

When Clarke was recalled from the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League, he was averaging 16.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 26.0 minutes per game.

Clarke has also appeared in one game for the Red Claws on assignment from the Celtics where he recorded 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal in just under 20 minutes against Erie on March 10.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Coty Clarke,
Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard explain how Kevin Durant, Thunder manhandled Celtics 03.17.16 at 12:10 am ET
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In an overpowering display, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook helped the Thunder score 42 points in the third quarter, build a lead of 30 points before coasting to a 130-109 win over the undermanned Celtics on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Durant had 28 points while Westbrook added 24 for the Thunder (46-22). The Celtics (39-29) lost their third straight and fell to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas, who had a game-high 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. But the Celtics lost their second straight without the injured Jae Crowder.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, Mike Petraglia, NBA
Isaiah Thomas says Celtics ‘punked’ by Thunder, ‘soft as tissue’ in embarrassing loss 03.16.16 at 11:58 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas was embarrassed.

Even though he scored a game-high 29 points and made 11-of-19 shots from the floor, he was embarrassed by his team’s 130-109 loss to the Thunder at TD Garden before a national TV audience.

The Celtics gave up 42 points in the third quarter, the most points they’ve surrendered in any 12-minute period this season. The 130 points were the most they’ve allowed in regulation this season and the most any Celtics team has allowed in regulation since 2004. 

Kelly Olynyk’s returned from a 12-game absence due to a shoulder injury didn’t overcome the loss of Jae Crowder (ankle) for a second straight game. Not even close. 

At one point of the third quarter, it got so bad, the Celtics trailed by 30.

“They punked us. We played soft as tissue,” Thomas lamented. “That third quarter, they took advantage of every little thing they could have. With a good team like that, you can’t have that happen. So, whoever is playing, whether Jae’s out, Kelly’s back, they punked us. That was basically what it was. They were the tougher team, no question.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kevin Durant
Brad Stevens on return of Kelly Olynyk: ‘We’ll see how much he plays’ at 6:08 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics coach Brad Stevens and center Kelly Olynyk are searching for the best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

After 12 games on the sidelines, it appears Kelly Olynyk finally is ready to return to action. 

Olynyk is expected to return from his partially separated right shoulder just in time to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Wednesday at TD Garden.

“Kelly told me at shootaround that he thinks he’s going to give it a go, but we’ll wait till he gets through all this stuff, but it sounds like he’s going to try to give it a go,” coach Brad Stevens said an hour, 45 minutes before tipoff Wednesday. “We’ll see how much he plays. Obviously he hasn’t done much other than our practices the last five-plus weeks.”

Olynyk injured the shoulder in the first half of the game against the Clippers on Feb. 10 at the Garden. It appeared that he would be ready to go Tuesday in Indiana after taking part in a full contact practice on Sunday. But he was held out after indicating to coaches that he wasn’t quite ready. 

“I think [confidence] is a big deal,” Stevens said. “That’s depending on how much pain you’re having. There’s only one person that can answer that question and that’s him. That’s why he’s been smart about it. We didn’t want him to come back until he was ready to roll and didn’t feel tentative. He’s going to have some pain there and that’s part of it. But I think at the end of the day he feels more comfortable today than he has before.”

The Celtics could use Olynyk’s 3-point prowess. He leads the team at 41.3 percent. The Celtics have converted just 16 of 63 from beyond the arc in the last two games, both losses. 

“If you’re going to play small, you better be able to shoot,” Stevens said. “You better be able to make shots or you better be able to get out in transition and really run because otherwise the lane’s clogged. We’re going to have to continue to find better shots than we did last night. I thought we guarded about as well as we could have last night. That’ll be significantly tested again. Hey, this is a tough stretch of games for us. I’m conscious of that. At the same time, I think we need to play better offensively to beat a team of this caliber.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Coty Clarke, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Durant
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