Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers

935811.jpg

Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers

BOSTON -- The game looked like it was over with still a quarter to go.  
The Boston Celtics led the Cleveland Cavaliers 78-59 when Pierce went to the bench with 3:42 left in the third. He had scored 32 points in just 25 minutes and helped build a lead that looked to be enough to sustain them for the rest of the night. A minute later, the Celtics went up by a game-high 20 points. Leading 80-60 with 3:16 remaining in the quarter, the Cs were in command.
And then it all stopped. 
The Cavaliers closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to cut the Celtics edge to just ten points entering the fourth. Three minutes into the fourth, the Celtics lead was down to two points, 82-80. Within a matter of minutes, they had gone from a team poised to snap a three-game skid to a club on the verge of blowing a substantial lead. 
"Honestly, our bench came in and didn't give us a lift, and they were fantastic in the first half," said Doc Rivers. "We still haven't sustained a 48-minute game. We had that one stretch, we have to get better."
Rivers started Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa along with Kevin Garnett in the fourth. By the nine-minute mark, he had subbed starters Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, and Jason Collins back into the game. The Cavs were able to chip away their deficit to only two points with the starters on the court before they pushed the lead back up to four, six, eight, eventually double digits to win, 103-91.
"We had a 20-point lead," said Rivers. "You sub in, I think guys think when you have the lead it's scoring time now. It's really defensive time. You've got to continue to get stops, then you can score. I thought we short-cutter that part of it."
By the end of the game, it was Cavs head coach Byron Scott who was looking at the comeback from the losing perspective.
"They're a very good basketball team, a lot of experience," Scott said of the Celtics. "Theyve got a lot of guys over there that are champions. I thought that when we got within four to six points, we turned it over. It showed the difference between experience against youth. We turned it over turned it over turned it over, they come down get the shot they wanted, knocked down three in a row, lead got back to double digits. So in that scenario, again, weve got to learn from that. Weve got to find a way to close games. And as young as we are, weve just got to keep learning from it."
After nearly losing a 20-point lead, the Celtics had a lot to learn from this game, too. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.