Celtics come up short against Blazers, 92-86

Celtics come up short against Blazers, 92-86
February 24, 2013, 11:15 pm
Share This Post

PORTLAND, Ore. — On a night when the world was watching who would be taking home some shiny new hardware in Hollywood, the Boston Celtics were playing a little basketball game in Portland.

But their performance was far from award-winning with Portland holding on for a 92-86 victory to snap their seven-game losing streak.

All five Portland starters were in double figures, led by Wesley Matthews' game-high 24 points. For the Celtics, Pierce led the C's with 23 points along with eight assists and seven rebounds.

Sunday's loss guarantees that the Celtics (29-27) will return home having racked up more losses than victories during their West coast excursion.

In addition, it serves as yet another game in which the Green Team walked off the floor feeling as though they let one get away.

Boston spent most of the fourth quarter trailing, but seemed a five-to seven-point spurt away from taking over. That run never came, and it wasn't totally because of Portland's defense, either.

With a chance to either tie the game or take the lead, Jason Terry threw a pass from one side of the court to another which was stolen and ultimately led to a Portland lay-up.

Trailing 75-73, the C's defense forced Portland's Nicolas Batum into a last-second shot attempt from well beyond the 3-point line. The shot was off the mark, but Batum was fouled on the play by Terrence Williams. Batum made two of the three free throws to put Portland back on top by four points.

Boston had another shot at making it a one possession game, only to see Paul Pierce's shot in the lane roll in and out. Another Celtics' defensive stop was followed by another Celtics' miss.

It was that kind of game for Boston.

But when it seemed the Celtics were on the verge of being put away for good, they started to make a mini-comeback.

A jumper by Brandon Bass followed by an alley-oop dunk by Kevin Garnett brought the C's within four points again. The Celtics eventually tied the game at 86 following a driving lay-up by Kevin Garnett with less than two minutes to play.

But Portland's Damian Lillard countered with a 3-point play that put the Blazers ahead 89-86 with 1:32 to play.

And a Matthews' 3-pointer - his fifth of the night - with less than a minute to play put the game away for good.

In the end, there were far too many empty possessions throughout the game by Boston that eventually caught up with them, providing just what Portland needed to squeak out the victory.

Several factors contributed to the loss, but the C's start to the game wasn't one of them.

Once again the Celtics got off to a fast start as they raced out to a 7-0 lead. But it didn't take long for the Blazers to get back in the game and eventually lead by as many as seven points in the first.

Prior to the game, Celtics coach singled out Batum as one of the players the C's had to be concerned with making a major impact.

"Batum is so important to them winning," said Rivers.

He led all scorers with nine points in the first quarter, followed closely by LaMarcus Aldridge (eight points) and Matthews (seven points).

The C's had eight different scorers in the first with Pierce leading the way with five points. But it wasn't enough as the Celtics trailed 27-21 after the first.

Boston had their chances in the second quarter, but just couldn't replicate the success and dominance they displayed just 48 hours earlier.

Terrence Williams who was credited with being a key performer in Boston's win over the Suns, reminded us all why he's on a 10-day contract.

A slew of possessions in which he made poor decisions in either his shot selection or passing, had the look and feel of former Celtic Nate Robinson - and fellow Seattle native - who fluctuated often between the "Good Nate Robinson" and the "Bad Nate Robinson."

On Sunday, Celtics fans saw the "Bad T-Will" for the first time. He was soon back on the bench, but it didn't matter.

Portland continued to maintain a lead for the rest of the half which ended with the Blazers ahead 49-42.

Keeping the Celtics in the game was Pierce who usually plays well against the Blazers.

In fact, Pierce came into Sunday's game shooting 48.1 percent against the Blazers. Only Pierce's career shooting average of 48.5 percent against Detroit is higher.

When it came to shooting well, Pierce was on his own relative to his teammates while connecting on five of his six shot attempts.

The rest of the C's were a combined 12-for-39 or 30.7 percent.

That said, to be trailing by just seven points at the half had to be one of the few positives the Celtics took into the locker room.