NEWS
12/18/2011 04:06 EST | Updated 02/17/2012 05:12 EST

Bargnani scores 16 points to top Raptors in 76-75 pre-season loss to Boston

TORONTO - There's only one more pre-season game left for the Toronto Raptors to practise the last-second comeback.

DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani each missed shots in the dying seconds, and the Boston Celtics held on to win Sunday's exhibition game 76-75.

The Celtics led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Toronto's first exhibition game was still considered a success by new head coach Dwane Casey.

"I liked our effort, I liked our toughness," Casey said. "We needed a couple more at the end. Overall I was pleased with the effort."

The emphasis has been on defence as the team prepared for a season shortened by a long labour dispute, but offence remains a work in progress.

The Raptors missed some open shots and hit slightly better than 38 per cent from the floor. Toronto also committed 21 turnovers that led to 26 points.

"I thought our defence was fantastic," Casey said. "We have what we call multiple stops and we did a lot of those. We try to get seven per game and we reached our goal with that.

"Offensively, I said yesterday we may throw it in the stands and we did 21 times."

The lack of offensive polish showed on the final possession of the game. It did not go quite the way it was drawn up.

"That play we were trying to run, a couple of guys didn't get to their correct spots," Casey said. "Again now we can find out who can be in at the end of games."

DeRozan missed a 10-foot jumper and Bargnani, who led all scorers with 16 points and added nine rebounds, couldn't put home a four-footer off the rebound at the buzzer.

"The play kind of broke down and we rushed it a little bit," said DeRozan, who had 14 points. "We had to scramble. I just had to throw up a double-clutch shot. I wish Andrea had tipped it in but stuff happens. We're going to be all right."

One of the things Casey wants is to improve Bargnani's rebounding and he was pleased with Sunday's effort.

"I was impressed, he hit the boards," Casey said. "If he had finished that last shot it would have counted, we watched the video. Overall I was pleased with his effort. I thought he competed, he impacted the ball on his pick-and-roll coverages, he came back and got some in-the-traffic rebounds. We've been on him about and he did that."

Bargnani said the change in emphasis to developing a good defence is a team effort.

"It's not a change for me," he said. "It was everybody, every single player. We were one of the worst teams defensively. It's not one guy, it's not two guys, it's not three guys, it's everybody. Everybody has got to get better and make the maximum effort to make this team a defensive team."

Ed Davis led Toronto with 10 rebounds to go with his 10 points, while Jerryd Davis also had 10 points.

Ray Allen topped Boston with 12 points and Marquis Daniels chipped in 11 in the first of two pre-season meetings between the two teams.

Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass each had nine for Boston.

The Raptors, who trailed by 14 points with 9:46 to play in the game, battled back as Boston rested its regulars to take a 75-74 lead on a tip shot by Amir Johnson with 26 seconds left in the game.

The lead was short-lived as Greg Stiemsma put Boston ahead for good with a layup with 12.6 seconds left.

"I could see the game getting closer with about seven minutes," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "You could see they were making a run and I thought it was a great time to throw the young guys in and see if they could hold the lead and withstand their rush. So it was a great experience for them."

Notes: Linas Kleiza (right knee) and Anthony Carter (right shoulder) were inactive for Toronto. ... Paul Pierce (right heel) did not play for Boston. ... Boston point guard Rajon Rondo was in the Celtics' starting lineup after being listed as day to day with a sprained right ankle. He had five points and eight assists in 27 minutes.