Since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen three summers ago, the Celtics have never lost four consecutive games. Thanks to a strong effort at home Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, that streak remains intact.
Garnett had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists in his return from a hyperextended right knee, and the Celtics emerged with a dramatic 98-95 overtime victory to snap a three-game losing streak. It's the C's first win since last Wednesday night, Jan. 13, against the lowly New Jersey Nets.
In a hard-fought extra session, the Celtics emerged victorious behind a strong effort from Ray Allen. The C's veteran guard drained a three with just over 40 seconds left, and then corralled a long rebound on the ensuing possession to ensure the Boston victory.
The Blazers outrebounded the Celtics 46-37 overall in the game, but poor shooting — especially down the stretch — was Portland's Achilles heel. The Blazers shot just 38.2 percent from the floor in the game, compared to 48.7 percent for the victorious Celtics.
Celtics 98, Blazers 95 (OT)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Jan. 22, 2010
Headliner: Ray Allen was huge for the Celtics on a night when Paul Pierce fouled out and Garnett was a bit rusty in his first game back from the knee injury. He shot just 3-for-14, but he played a team-high 43 minutes and held down the fort defensively. His clutch play in the overtime period sealed the Boston win.
Andre Miller picked up the scoring load for Portland in the absence of leading scorer Brandon Roy — Miller shot 11-for-23 from the floor for a game-high 28 points.
Unsung Hero: Rasheed Wallace was a sparkplug for the Celtics offensively in the second quarter, shooting 5-for-6 for 11 points and helping the C's to hold off a first-half surge from the dynamic Blazers. Sheed finished with 14 points against the Blazers, his former team.
Martell Webster put together a little scoring outburst of his own for the Blazers in the third quarter, scoring the first eight points of the second half for Portland. Webster kept the Blazers in the game at a point when the rest of his team wasn't feeling it on the offensive end — unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough in the end.
Scrub: Kendrick Perkins was a rock for the Celtics defensively and on the boards, but he was completely absent offensively in a game when he should have been relied upon to dominate against the undersized Juwan Howard down low. Perkins managed just two field-goal attempts on the night, going 1-for-2 for four points.
Howard was himself neutralized — the 6-foot-9 center finished with just six points. The lack of an inside presence forced the Blazers to survive off their outside shooting, which is no easy task against the defensive presence of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Turning Point: In the final 60 seconds, it was all about Allen. The Celtics were in dire straits with one minute to play — Howard and Miller had just connected on back-to-back baskets, giving the Blazers a two-point lead. The Celtics had their backs to the wall, but Allen was there to save the day.
The Celtics guard drilled a three from the top of the key, a 26-footer off an assist from Rajon Rondo, and then pegged Tony Allen with a perfect pass in transition after grabbing the long LaMarcus Aldridge rebound. Over the course of two plays, the Celtics took firm control of the game thanks to the heads-up play of their veteran shooting guard.
Up Next: The Celtics have the rest of the weekend off. They next take the court on Monday night, when the L.A. Clippers visit the TD Garden.
They'll be eager to avenge a shocking loss suffered at the Staples Center last month, a 92-90 defeat on Dec. 27 decided in the final second by a deadly jumper by Baron Davis.