BOSTON – Nate Robinson figures the Boston Celtics’ bench won’t face much stiffer competition than what they see in their own practices.

Robinson scored 13 points, including a key 3-pointer, to lift the Celtics to a 91-87 preseason win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.

With aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal expected to carry the bulk of minutes in key games throughout the season and likely into the postseason, the Celtics will need help from their reserves to keep the stars well rested.

On Sunday, they had a chance against some of Toronto’s starters.

“Just confidence,” said Robinson when asked about a win carried by the bench. “Knowing we go against some of the best guys in the league in practice, we’re just preparing each other.”

O’Neal, Delonte West and Marquis Daniels each scored 11 points for Boston, which improved to 3-0. West and Daniels were on the floor with Robinson when the Raptors put starters Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack and Sonny Weems back into the game.


“It was nice,” Boston Coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t know if that was exactly our second unit. I thought it was nice they put in some of their guys.”

Jack led the Raptors (1-1) with 18 points. Leandro Barbosa added 16 points, getting 14 in the second half.

“I don’t think we’re playing the game right now the way we’re supposed to play it,” Raptors Coach Jay Triano said. “I’m just trying to get minutes and get these guys legs under them and get them playing defense the way we want to play it.”

Jermaine O’Neal played his first game after missing the first two with a strained left hamstring.

He blocked three shots and grabbed two rebounds in seven scoreless minutes.

Rivers said before the game that he wanted to ease him back into action.

Shaquille O’Neal also grabbed five rebounds and was perfect from the free throw line — 3 of 3 — but picked up five fouls in 17 minutes.

The teams were tied three times and swapped leads eight times in the final quarter until forward Stephane Lasme’s jam moved Boston ahead for good. Robinson followed with his 3-pointer, making it 88-84 with 2:21 left.


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