Final: Celtics 88, Blazers 78. The Celtics have survived a wee bit of a fourth-quarter scare and held on for a solid win, 88-78 over the Blazers. The C's open their four-game West road trip with a victory.
Ray Allen leads the way for the Celtics with 18 points; Paul Pierce adds 17 but leaves in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. Kevin Garnett finishes with a near-triple-double — 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Celtics survive a massive 17-point, 16-rebound effort from LaMarcus Aldridge to sneak out of Portland with a win.
The C's have won seven of their last eight games, and they now head straight to Phoenix for game two of the road trip. They'll tip things off with the Suns on Friday night at 10:30 Eastern.
Fourth quarter, 33.6 seconds, Celtics 84-77: Glen Davis comes up with two big free throws. The C's and their fans can now exhale a little bit.
Doc Rivers needs to dial his guys in for one last stop.
Fourth quarter, 37.4 seconds, Celtics 82-77: Uh oh, here comes the Blazers. Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez each knock down a deep, contested 3, and the Blazers are back in the ballgame.
Marquis Daniels misses two free throws, but Kevin Garnett comes up with a huge rebound. The C's are still in control, but they've got to stay composed down the stretch.
Fourth quarter, 1:43, Celtics 80-71: A couple items of bad news for the Celtics — one, Wesley Matthews nails a 3 to cut their lead to single digits, and two, Paul Pierce limps off the floor and heads to the locker room early.
The C's will look to finish the job and win this one for the captain. They're still in good shape.
Fourth quarter, 2:37, Celtics 78-65: Kevin Garnett makes a nice diving play to intercept a lob pass in transition to LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers still haven't been able to find their rhythm offensively.
The C's are ready to put the finishing touches on this one.
Fourth quarter, 4:09, Celtics 78-63: Glen Davis picks up a bucket, and the Celtics now have their biggest lead of the night at 15.
This one's just about over. The Blazers' offense looks completely dead, so a comeback would be darn near impossible.
Fourth quarter, 5:04, Celtics 76-63: You don't see that every day. Ray Allen just got smacked across the face, hard, by Dante Cunningham as he went up for a layup. No whistle.
Even the world's biggest Blazer homer would have expected a call there.
Fourth quarter, 6:02, Celtics 74-63: It's another one of those stretches again. Neither team has scored a point in the last minute and a half.
What's funny is this game hasn't been played that well defensively, despite the numbers. You've just seen a lot of bad execution and bad shooting, really.
The C's will take a win any way they can get it, though. They're a few stops away from picking up a solid road win.
Fourth quarter, 7:23, Celtics 74-63: The Celtics tear off a quick 12-2 run to solidify their lead, but the Blazers still refuse to die quietly.
Andre Miller has really stepped up his game offensively — he's got 14 now, and he's really emerged as a go-to guy in the fourth quarter. With no Brandon Roy, the Blazers get creative offensively.
Fourth quarter, 9:45, Celtics 68-60: Doc Rivers is playing an elaborate game of chicken in this fourth quarter, trying to see how long he can leave his bench guys out there and still sustain this lead. Von Wafer and Marquis Daniels are getting extended run while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen watch from the bench.
The C's starters are hoping to conserve as much energy as possible. They're got the second end of the back-to-back tomorrow, in Phoenix.
End of third quarter, Celtics 64-58: Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge refuse to go away. The Blazers rip off a quick 6-0 run to get back in the game, and now this one's up for grabs again.
Paul Pierce has 17 points and Ray Allen, 16 for the Celtics; Aldridge has 15 and Andre Miller, 11 for the Blazers.
Both teams have executed poorly on offense and shot poorly to boot, but someone's got to pull out an ugly win. The Celtics will try to be that team.
Third quarter, 3:21, Celtics 62-52: Ray Allen just nailed a pair of deep 3s. He's now 17 away from Reggie Miller, and the C's now wield a double-digit lead over the Blazers.
Ray has 16 points now, nearly matching Paul Pierce's 17. The C's two leading scorers each have it going.
Third quarter, 4:22, Celtics 57-49: Kendrick Perkins just ran a mean give-and-go with Kevin Garnett to get a thunderous dunk. Perk now has eight points, a pleasant surprise offensively.
Perk's now at almost 18 minutes, which is more than the C's expected to get from him. Will Doc Rivers sit Perk down for the whole fourth quarter, or will he go back on his word and let the big man go wild?
Third quarter, 6:21, Celtics 50-46: Kendrick Perkins gets a quick bucket to put the C's back up by four. He doesn't shoot much, but he's productive when he does.
Perk is 1-for-2 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line for six points. For the second consecutive game, the offense has come easy for the big fella.
Third quarter, 7:47, Celtics 48-44: Another terrible pass from Rajon Rondo, who tries to drop a no-look entry to Kendrick Perkins down low. That'll be another turnover.
Rondo now has five turnovers. The Celtics as a team have 15. This is really ugly.
And yet, somehow, the C's are still winning.
Third quarter, 9:30, Celtics 48-44: Paul Pierce sets the tone by nailing a 3 on the first possession of the second half. He's now got 17, and the Celtics are still out in front.
The C's execution has looked pretty smooth so far in the second half. If they can play good, smart offense against these long, tough Blazers, they'll be in good shape.
Halftime, Celtics 41-37: Yet another big first half for the captain. Paul Pierce heads to the locker room at halftime with a game-high 14 points, and the Celtics have themselves a nice four-point lead at the break.
The C's have executed beautifully on the defensive end, holding the Blazers to just 37 points on 36 percent shooting. But the big problem has been the offense — turning the ball over 11 times in a single half is no way to win a basketball game.
LaMarcus Aldridge is on his way to a double-double already with nine points and 11 rebounds at the break. Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins will both have to step up in the second half to slow him down.
Second quarter, 2:58, Blazers 34-33: The Celtics have now made 11 turnovers, leading to 16 Portland points. That is bad. That is really bad.
The C's have been able to hold the Blazers under 40 percent shooting throughout the ballgame, but it hasn't been good enough. Because of the turnover problem, the Blazers are getting way more shot attempts.
The Celtics have always been an unselfish team offensively, but they're oversharing the ball tonight. It's really hurting them.
Second quarter, 4:27, Celtics 33-32: The Celtics have roared back with a 6-0 run. Forget the bench — it's the starters bringing the energy tonight.
Ray Allen runs a 3-on-2 fast break, gets the ball to Rajon Rondo, and watches Rondo finish at the rim. The C's are back in front.
Second quarter, 6:18, Blazers 30-27: Do you know who Patrick Mills is? Because if you don't know now, you'd better learn soon.
Mills rattles off six consecutive points, and the Blazers maintain a modest lead in the second quarter. The little Australian is so active — always moving, always making plays.
The Blazers are staying ahead because their bench has brought energy. The Celtics look a little sluggish.
Second quarter, 8:11, Blazers 26-25: Against bigger, more physical point guards like Andre Miller, Rajon Rondo has shown a troubling tendency to play scared.
The C's moved the ball beautifully and got Rondo a wide-open look at an elbow jumper, which is supposed to be the next element in the progression of his game. But Rondo made a mistake and overpassed, pumping the ball down low to Kendrick Perkins who couldn't get a shot off.
Maybe if it was Shaquille O'Neal down there on the block, the pass would have been the right play. But with Perk? Maybe Rondo should show some self-confidence and take the shot himself.
Second quarter, 9:34, Blazers 24-23: Another from the Celtics, and it's a costly one. Ray Allen makes a bad pass, and the Blazers quickly turn it into a transition bucket for Dante Cunningham.
The Blazers aren't typically seen as a run-and-gun kind of ballclub, but they know how to adapt. If you turn the ball over and give them the chance to run, they'll light you up.
The C's need to regain their focus on the offensive end.
End of first quarter, Celtics 21-18: The Celtics give a solid shut-down defensive effort to take a lead after one, but they're far from perfect. Two main problems, really.
One is turnovers — the C's have six already, including three from Rajon Rondo. They've got to take better care of the basketball to hold this lead.
The other problem? LaMarcus Aldridge is just really, really good. He's using his size, his length and his energy to change the pace of this game on both ends. He's got eight points and five boards early.
Paul Pierce has six for the C's. He's been a monster in the first quarter ever since New Year's.
First quarter, 2:50, Celtics 17-12: The Celtics are asking Kendrick Perkins to contain LaMarcus Aldridge one-on-one, and so far he's performed admirably. Perk is keeping a body on L.A. constantly, and the C's are switching quickly on his pick-and-rolls to keep him from getting open.
This has been a masterful first quarter defensively for the Celtics. The Blazers have made only six of their first 18 shots. They'll be lucky to make it to 15 points by the end of the quarter.
First quarter, 5:20, Celtics 13-10: Apparently Rondo is just fine. He may have been shaken up earlier, but he's not showing it. The little man just drove the lane and scored again.
Rondo's got four points, three assists and two boards early. He's all over the place, doing a little bit of everything.
First quarter, 7:02, Celtics 9-8: This has been quite the physical ballgame so far. First Joel Przybilla wrestles with Kevin Garnett and takes him down; then Rajon Rondo runs unto Nicolas Batum and crashes to the floor.
The C's are getting bumped and bruised plenty, but they keep getting up and playing hard.
Kendrick Perkins is about to check in for Semih Erden. Expect him to play another 17 minutes or so tonight.
First quarter, 8:27, Celtics 5-4: Ray Allen just threw down a monster dunk off a lob from Rajon Rondo. Who knew that Ray could fly like that?
Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the C's started the break with a nice hustle play from Semih Erden to tip a rebound. Semih has been very active on the glass so far — he's only been credited with two boards, but he's been using his length to tip loose balls to teammates, playing good unselfish basketball.
The C's have still yet to establish their halfcourt offense well. That's still a work in progress.
First quarter, 10:24, Celtics 3-2: Ray Allen just nailed a wing 3-pointer to put the Celtics on the board.
Ray's now 19 treys away from tying Reggie Miller for the most in NBA history.
First quarter, 11:04, 0-0: The Celtics start the ballgame with a nice energy play on their first possession — Semih Erden reaches in and tips an offensive rebound to Kevin Garnett, and the C's get a second-chance shot for Rajon Rondo.
Rondo draws contact, gets to the line, and… misses two free throws.
Rondo's still got to work on that shot. He's been miserably bad from the line this year.
9:45 p.m.: And thus the road trip begins. The C's have had a solid beginning to their season, no question, but the rigors of the season will really begin to pile up now as the travel gets tougher.
Some numbers to munch on as game time approaches — on the season, the Celtics are 22-3 at home and 12-7 on the road. They're 26-6 against the Eastern Conference and 8-4 against the West.
Clearly, the C's have been good no matter who they play and where. But this road trip might make things a bit tougher. They've got to power through it.
8 a.m.: The Celtics begin a difficult road trip on Thursday night, starting out in Portland and playing a total of four games out West in six days. They've had this one circled on their calendars all year long, and now it's here. It'll be one of their most grueling weeks this season.
But the way Doc Rivers sees it, they've already started off the trip with a win.
"The last game before you go and the first game back are the two most difficult games on your road trip," the coach said Tuesday. "I always tell them that. It's a six-game road trip, not a four-gamer. There's the one before you leave, because your mind is already gone, and the one you come back. Those are two very difficult games. I've always thought that if the trip's four, then that means it's six."
In that case, the C's had a wildly successful opener to their road trip on Tuesday night. They welcomed back Kendrick Perkins, they got a big lead early over the visiting Cavaliers and they wrapped up a blowout win with seven players in double figures on their way to a 112-95 final. You couldn't ask for a better way to start the trip.
But now it's time for the real road games. After a cross-country flight Wednesday, the C's take the floor at the Rose Garden in Portland on Thursday night. It's their first time venturing out West all season, and the schedule is brutal right away. They've got a back-to-back against the Blazers and Suns, then one day off before the Lakers, then another one-day break before the Kings. The schedule is fast and furious.
The C's and Blazers tip off Thursday at 7:30 p.m. local time, 10:30 p.m. back in Boston. Rivers and his squad might think the trip's already under way, but it's about to get a whole lot tougher.
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