On the second end of a challenging back-to-back, the Celtics put forth one of their most complete efforts of the season in a 96-76 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
The rout gives Boston a 3-0 mark on its annual trip out West after the All-Star Game and serves notice that things may be rounding into shape for the Green.
The C's shot 53.4 percent from the floor and had an alarming 27-7 advantage in assists. Portland was 22-of-65 (33.8 percent) from the floor and only able to have a pulse in the second half due to a 30-12 advantage in free throws made.
It was a Ray Allen layup midway through the first quarter which gave Boston the lead for good. The advantage grew to as many as 20 in the third quarter before Portland pulled to within nine, but the hosts then became turnover-happy and never threatened down the stretch.
Allen continued his turnaround with a game-high 21 points. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 11 assists (nine in the first half) and Kevin Garnett chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who improved to 6-5 in the second half of back-to-backs.
Andre Miller led three Blazers in double figures with 16 points. Brandon Roy had just nine and one assist in his second game back from a hamstring injury.
Celtics 96, Trail Blazers 76
Rose Garden, Portland, Ore.
Feb. 19, 2010
Headliner: For the second straight night, Allen gave the Celtics reason to be thankful for not trading him away. He was 9-of-14 from the floor and scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth, just as Portland got within single digits.
That's 45 points on 19-of-29 shooting in two games for Allen since the trade deadline passed.
Unsung Hero: With all due respect to the quality efforts of Rondo and Garnett, Glen Davis did the dirty work in the second half as those two stayed on the sidelines.
Davis had 10 points off the bench and it was the back-to-back charges he drew early in the fourth quarter which helped cut short a Blazers' run. The first of the offensive fouls started a stretch in which Portland committed five straight turnovers.
Scrub: The Blazers' mini-push in the second half climaxed when Rudy Fernandez had a steal and a three-point play to make it 73-64 with 11:37 left. But Fernandez was atrocious the rest of the night, and in the immediate aftermath of his one highlight, he committed three straight turnovers to take his team right out of it.
Fernandez finished with five points on 1-of-7 shooting and had four giveaways.
A bit quieter but just as ineffective for the Blazers was newly-acquired center Marcus Camby. In his debut with the team, Camby had two points and five turnovers in 30 minutes.
Turning Point: The Blazers were still within five points and had the ball a few minutes into the second quarter when Dante Cunningham missed a 19-footer. Rasheed Wallace ripped down the rebound and threw an outlet to Allen, who found Marquis Daniels in stride for a basket and a foul.
It started a 26-11 run which extended into the third quarter and gave the Celtics their 20-point lead.
Up Next: Sunday in Denver shapes up to be a good one as the Celtics will look to complete a 4-0 trip after the All-Star break against one of the Western Conference elites.
Following the Nuggets game, Boston returns home to host the New York Knicks in Eddie House's return to TD Garden. It will be the start of a three-game homestand, with next Thursday's game against Cleveland the headliner.