Celtics Survive Late 15-0 Run From Blazers, Hold On For Fifth Consecutive Win

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Celtics Survive Late 15-0 Run From Blazers, Hold On For Fifth Consecutive WinFinal: Celtics 99, Blazers 95. Not content to waltz away with a double-digit win on their home floor over a Blazers team that had lost four straight, the Celtics had to do it the hard way.

The C's take a 16-point lead late in the fourth quarter, allow the Blazers to storm back with a 15-0 run, and then polish off the win with a dramatic corner 3 from Ray Allen. That'll work. A win's a win.

On an off night for Allen, the Celtics survive thanks to 28 points and seven rebounds from Paul Pierce. Wesley Matthews finishes with 23 for the Blazers, who come up short. They lose their fifth straight game; the Celtics win their fifth straight.

The C's get a day off Thursday before taking on the Chicago Bulls at the TD Garden on Friday night.

Fourth quarter, 10.7 seconds, Celtics 99-95: Ray Allen has had a terrible night, but he comes through when it matters.

Ray drains a corner 3 with 10.7 seconds to play, and the Celtics are now on the verge of holding off the Blazers and earning a dramatic win on their home floor.

He's now 3-for-12 from the field. At least he made the most important shot of all.

Fourth quarter, 36.6 seconds, Celtics 96-95: And now it's a 15-0 Blazers run. The Celtics have let them come all the way back, turning a practically unwinnable game into a fair fight again.

What a roller coaster.

Doc Rivers has called timeout. Maybe he can talk some sense into these guys.

Fourth quarter, 1:17, Celtics 96-93: The Blazers are now on an 13-0 run. Uh oh.

Fourth quarter, 1:57, Celtics 96-88: The Blazers have gone on a quick 8-0 run. They're not done yet.

Nate McMillan has called for a timeout. Let's see what he's got up his sleeve now. The Blazers are still a couple of stops away from giving the Celtics a real scare.

Fourth quarter, 3:48, Celtics 96-82: This game has devolved into a defensive standstill, with both teams settling for mediocre jump shots and missing them. With a 14-point lead, the Celtics will certainly take it.

It's hard to believe the Celtics are in such a good position in this game. They really looked horrible in the first half, but they worked hard to fight all the way back.

Fourth quarter, 6:32, Celtics 89-80: Paul Pierce checks back in for the Celtics. He should be rested, relaxed and ready to drive the final dagger through the Blazers' hearts.

Pierce is 8-for-9 from the field, 4-for-4 from 3 and 6-for-6 from the line. He's been as close to perfect as they come.

Fourth quarter, 7:40, Celtics 87-80: Andre Miller's going to keep fighting for the Blazers. He had only four points in the first half, but he's stepped up with 10 more in the second. He's showing the toughness to get into the paint and score against these Celtics.

Fourth quarter, 9:23, Celtics 85-75: The Celtics are now on a 23-7 run. They've gone from flailing  to dominating.

Back in the second quarter, it didn't look like these C's had the desire to match Portland's energy. And in a way, it still doesn't look that way, but it doesn't matter. The Celtics are winning with efficiency — taking care of the ball, sharing it well, and taking good shots.

They've just got to hold on for nine more minutes.

End of third quarter, Celtics 79-72: The Celtics are killing it. Paul Pierce connects on a 3 — he's now 4-for-4 from long range with 26 points — and Kevin Garnett follows it up with a long two from the corner.

The C's have a seven-point lead for the first time. They're 12 minutes away from winning their fifth straight game.

Third quarter, 2:46, Celtics 69-68: Ladies and gentlemen, the Celtics have themselves a lead.

Paul Pierce improves to 3-for-3 on the night from 3-point range.

Pierce and the Celtics don't take a lot of 3s, but they make them count. Efficient shooting has been their saving grace against the Blazers.

Now Kevin Garnett is back on the floor, recovered from a little scratch that had him briefly sidelined. The C's will need KG's defense to keep this lead.

Third quarter, 3:47, Blazers 68-64: Big Baby is making a big push for the Celtics now.

He had six points at the break — he's since piled on eight more, and he's singlehandedly keeping the Celtics in this game with his offense.

On nights like this, when the Celtics' veterans are tired at the end of a back-to-back, they need young stars like Davis to step up and make things happen.

Unfortunately for the C's, they've gotten nothing from their other young bench star, Nate Robinson. That just means more work for Davis.

Third quarter, 6:12, Blazers 62-60: Glen Davis knocks down a long two. The Celtics won't go away — they've been nipping at the Blazers' heels throughout this third quarter, hitting a big shot every time they've needed it.

They've still got to find a way to stop Wesley Matthews, though. He's still killing them.

Third quarter, 7:47, Blazers 59-56: You knew the Celtics' veterans wouldn't take this lying down. KG knocks down a 17-footer, and Shaq gets into the lane for a bucket and a three-point play.

Now they need stops. That's been the hard part.

Third quarter, 9:50, Blazers 55-51: It's been a slow start for the Celtics in the second half, but they finally get a bucket as Paul Pierce drives baseline and gets to the basket.

The Celtics have had a really shaky night offensively, but Pierce is the one guy stepping up to lead them. He's now got 16 points. He might need 30-plus for the C's to win this game.

Halftime, Blazers 49-48: Thanks to a couple of smooth jumpers from Paul Pierce and a bone-crushing dunk by Shaquille O'Neal, the Celtics now have the momentum in this game. But they don't have the lead just yet.

Wesley Matthews drains a 3 at the buzzer to give the Blazers a one-point edge before halftime, taking the life out of the TD Garden crowd.

Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge have been the heavy hitters for the Blazers, with 16 and 10 points respectively.

Pierce leads the C's with 14 points and six rebounds; Shaq adds 11 and three.

Second quarter, 3:37, Blazers 40-38: The Celtics are officially making their push. It's a 9-0 run late in the second quarter, bolstered by a Paul Pierce 3 that brings the crowd out of their seats.

The C's needed a jolt to bring them back. Now they're getting it. All it took was for a couple of shots to fall.

Second quarter, 5:29, Blazers 40-31: It's a two-man game for the Blazers. Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge are carrying them in this first half — 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting for Matthews, 10 on 5-of-8 for Aldridge.

They're beating the Celtics at their own game — being unselfish, moving the ball well, hitting well-timed open shots.

The C's need to dig deep and find the energy to come back.

Second quarter, 6:38, Blazers 36-29: The Celtics have a foolproof way to turn things around — score points in the paint. Semih Erden and Shaquille O'Neal have both done their share this quarter as post scorers. That's what's keeping the C's alive.

Now if they could only (1) take better care of the basketball, (2) string together stops, and (3) rebound, they'd be in great shape. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Second quarter, 9:16, Blazers 32-23: The Blazers have a total of nine assists and two turnovers right now. For the Celtics: six and eight, respectively. That's not a good ratio.

What is it about this Celtics team? For some reason, they're always careless with the basketball on these back-to-backs. It's a worrisome trend.

Second quarter, 10:12, Blazers 30-21: Nicolas Batum just crashed his way into the lane and threw down a one-handed dunk. The Blazers are making the C's look silly.

Right now Ray Allen is on the floor for the Celtics alongside four reserves. Doc Rivers has said that he can't see himself playing five bench guys at once anymore — and with Delonte West on the shelf, Ray is the obvious candidate to step up and carry more of the load. It must be tough for him.

End of first quarter, Blazers 26-20: The Celtics close the quarter on a 6-2 run, but they still don't look very sharp on the second night of a back-to-back. They're going to need a lot of energy from their bench to have a chance in this one.

Wesley Matthews and his 11 points are the story of the night so far — the Celtics still haven't fully recovered from his early scoring spree.

Paul Pierce has quietly done his part to lead the Celtics with four points, five rebounds, a block … and two traveling violations. Every rose has its thorns, or something.

First quarter, 2:45, Blazers 24-14: The Celtics are killing themselves the same way they always do — turnovers. So far they've got six to the Blazers' zero, including a pair of traveling violations on Paul Pierce.

Traveling violations! Pierce is a veteran, and he should know better.

The C's need to get back to fundamentals. They look terrible right now.

First quarter, 5:49, Blazers 16-12: Wait, Wesley who? Wesley Matthews? Really?

The Blazers' second-year shooting guard is lighting the Celtics up. He's got 11 points on perfect 4-of-4 shooting, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Brandon Roy just had a perfectly wide-open look at a corner 3, and he passed it up. Why? Because Matthews was open too, and he was feeling it.

Swish.

The Celtics need to do something about this guy.

First quarter, 8:34, Blazers 11-5: The Celtics' Achilles' heel so far has been their inability to close out on shooters. Twice Paul Pierce has left Wesley Matthews open on the wing for a 3, and twice Matthews has taken the shot and drained it.

Matthews wasn't even starting for the Blazers at the beginning of this season, but he's stepped up as a big scorer. He's dropped 30, 20, 25 and 26 in games these last couple of weeks.

First quarter, 9:46, 5-5: The Celtics' ball movement is impressive early. Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett to a wide-open Shaquille O'Neal underneath — boom. Three-point play.

We're tied 5-5 early. Both teams are playing hard despite the rigor of the back-to-back.

7:35 p.m.: Doc Rivers was just introduced as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month to a roaring ovation. He didn't look up from his clipboard.

Doc and his Celtics are focused on the task at hand.

C's-Blazers tips off in just a moment.

6:45 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where the Celtics and the opposing Portland Trail Blazers are suiting up in red — red shoes, red warmups, a few red wristbands — in support of World AIDS Day.

Always good to see the NBA use its star power for a good cause.

The C's and the Blazers will tip off in about 45 minutes.

8 a.m.: Three years ago, both the Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers reached franchise crossroads as they evaluated their futures.

The Blazers won the draft lottery, kept their No. 1 pick and rebuilt around a young center named Greg Oden; the Celtics finished fifth, traded the pick and built a title contender around Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

The Blazers have watched Oden effectively miss three of his first four seasons. The C's have been to two NBA Finals and won one, and they're itching for more.

So it should surprise no one if come Wednesday night, when the Blazers visit the C's at the TD Garden, they've got a little extra chip on their shoulder. They're playing a basketball game, and they're also fighting a battle against their own checkered past.

The C's and Blazers tip off at 7:30 p.m.

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