Avery Bradley scored a game-high 25 points, leading six Boston players in double figures, as the Celtics (13-25) fell to 0-9 on the road against the Western Conference this season.
The Blazers (28-9) got an all-around effort, guided by LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez’s double-doubles. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews also delivered big second halves to boost the Blazers into a lead that grew as big as 13 points.
The Celtics finish their five-game road trip winless, while watching their losing streak grow to eight straight games. It doesn’t get any easier back home, though. They face the Rockets on Monday at TD Garden.
Fourth quarter, :21.1, Blazers 112-104: Jordan Crawford probably got fouled, but it doesn’t matter. Crawford and the Celtics ran a disjointed possession and didn’t work to get a quality shot, so the basketball gods weren’t about to bail them out with a call. A couple free throws by Matthews probably ends this one.
Fourth quarter, :40.2, Blazers 110-104: The Celtics can’t buy a bucket, but thanks to Green’s aggressiveness, they can buy a couple of free throws. Green’s freebies pull Boston within six, then Bass defended a drive by Lillard well before the ball flew out of bounds.
Possession was awarded to Portland, but on review it was found to have knocked off Lillard last. The Celtics get the ball back.
Fourth quarter, 1:11, Blazers 110-102: Playing hard is useless if you don’t play smart. The Celtics are definitely not playing smart.
After an impressive push and forcing a steal with a chance to cut the deficit to four points, the Celtics got careless and lazy. They got three looks, two of them not good at all by Crawford, and gave the ball back to Portland, which got two more points when the Celtics were forced to foul Robin Lopez.
Fourth quarter, 2:47, Blazers 108-98: Wesley Matthews might never be an All-Star, but he should be in the running for Most Improved Player this season. The dude just works. He’s got 16 points off hard cuts, accurate spot-up shooting and an underrated post game. Add his tenacious defense to the mix and Matthews is a big reason why the Blazers have been so good.
Fourth quarter, 6:19, Blazers 104-91: The Celtics sure would help themselves out by boxing out. Instead, they’ve given the Blazers five extra possessions due to offensive rebounds and have fallen way behind in a game that once looked winnable.
Nic Batum, who had just two points in the first half, just hit a 3-pointer to give him 14 points in the second half. Given enough extra chances, any player will break out of a slump, especially one as good as Batum.
Fourth quarter, 8:24, Blazers 96-91: The Blazers keep coming up with a couple extra hustle plays to maintain their edge over the Celtics, who are making just enough mistakes to obstruct their own comeback. Sully missed a layup and Bayless was whistled for an offensive foul on back-to-back possessions, helping Portland turn back to the Celtics after they had closed it to a one-possession game.
End of third quarter, Blazers 90-86: The Celtics didn’t fold in the third this time, but they didn’t keep it all together, either.
The Blazers used a 13-0 run in the middle of the quarter to take the lead for the first time, eventually pushing their advantage to nine points. It wasn’t baskets but foul shots that hurt the Celtics. The Celtics actually scored more field goals 11-10, but the Blazers got 10 free throws and hit them all.
Avery Bradley is still working it on offense with 23 points. He leads all scorers by a comfortable margin. LaMarcus Aldridge, with 17 points, is the closest player to his total.
Third quarter, 5:53, Blazers 73-68: Avery Bradley has started the second half just like he started the first half. He’s scorching hot, shooting 9-for-13 with 19 points for the game.
It’s a good thing, too, because the Celtics aren’t getting much offense from anywhere else. They are settling for tough jumpers or contested threes, while the Blazers just kept chipping away until they could finally overtake the Celtics. Wes Matthews’ 3-pointer gave Portland its first lead of the game and the Celtics need something to stabilize them before this turned into one of their patented poor third quarters.
Halftime, Celtics 60-58: Turnovers can kill. They nearly doomed the Celtics in the second quarter and they may bury them before the game is finished.
After a crisp, mostly turnover-free first 12 minutes, the Celtics got sloppy in the second quarter. They committed four in the frame, creating one of the few ways for the Blazers to slow them on offense, where the Celtics are still shooting 62 percent from the field.
But the Celtics also got careless on the glass toward the end of the period as well. After holding the Blazers without a second-chance point in the first six minutes of the quarter, they gave up seven in the last six minutes. Damian Lillard and Mo Williams took advantage of the transition opportunities and open shots generated by the offensive boards to score eight points each on 6-for-9 combined shooting in the quarter.
Avery Bradley still leads the Celtics in scoring with 13 points, but he hasn’t scored since the first quarter. Lillard’s matched that, while LaMarcus Aldridge is quietly effective, as always, with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, six boards, three assists, no turnovers and just one foul committed.
Second quarter, 3:27, Celtics 51-46: Jerryd Bayless keeps rolling and Kris Humphries keeps showing why Brad Stevens is putting him in the starting lineup. Bayless now has 10 points to lead the bench, hitting his first five shots before taking a heat check on a step-back jumper, while Humphries has eight points in 10 minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge is having his way with Boston’s bigs, especially Kelly Olynyk, but his nine points haven’t made much of a dent. His midrange game is ill-suited to making a comeback push against a team playing offense as efficiently as the Celtics are right now.
Second quarter, 6:25, Celtics 45-38: Normally, shooting 73 percent from the field would just not be sustainable. And it’s not. But even if the Celtics’ field goal percentage falls, they’ll be in good shape if they just keep playing the way that’s led to such a gaudy shooting percentage so far.
The Celtics are dominating points in the paint 24-8 and have held the Blazers without a second-chance point in this quarter. It’s like Brad Stevens is executing every page out of the playbook for how to beat Portland. If one doesn’t exist already, he’s writing it.
The combination of Jerryd Bayless and Phil Pressey off the bench has been effective, if undersized. Bayless has six points and Pressey has two assists and a steal in just a handful of minutes.
Second quarter, 8:49, Celtics 37-34: Rookie C.J. McCollum has spent most of his season sidelined with a foot injury, but now that he’s back, he’s scary. The pride of Lehigh is 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc as the Blazers are giving the Celtics some worry in the second quarter.
End of first quarter, Celtics 32-27: The Blazers closed the quarter on a 5-0 run, but that spurt couldn’t put a damper on what was a stellar first quarter for the Celtics. Avery Bradley in particular was tremendous, scoring 13 points and missing just one of the seven shots he took.
The Celtics have done the bulk of their damage in the paint, where they have 14 points, and have done an excellent job of getting good shots. They are shooting 70 percent and have eight assists on 14 field goals so far.
The Blazers are relying on threes and offensive rebounds to stay close. They have six offensive boards, more rebounds than they have on the defensive glass, and are winning second-chance points 10-0. Those numbers will close this gap quickly if the Celtics don’t shore those areas up.
First quarter, 2:05, Celtics 29-21: The Celtics are shooting well, defending well and they’re not turning the ball over. That’s a pretty good recipe for success.
Avery Bradley drains a straightaway 3-pointer to beat the shot clock after the Blazers deflected the ball into the backcourt, giving the Celtics their largest lead of the game. The Celts are shooting 72 percent overall and have just one turnover, while holding the Blazers to just 43 percent shooting.
If the Blazers weren’t so aggressive in taking threes, their deficit could be even bigger. Portland is 3-for-6 from deep to help prevent Boston from running away too far, too early.
First quarter, 7:50, Celtics 12-6: There aren’t many foolproof ways to beat the Blazers, but taking it to them inside is a good place to start.
The Blazers love the 3-point line and midrange jumpers, an attitude the Celtics are exploiting early. Eight of the Celtics’ 12 points so far have come in the paint, with nice finishes by Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass standing out. The Celtics need to maintain this rim-attacking mentality to avoid going 0-5 on this road trip.
8:26 p.m.: Opinion is split over whether the Trail Blazers are really this good or if they’ll come crashing back down to earth before the regular season is finished, but one thing is definitely for real. They take care of the ball, and there’s no faking that.
The Blazers have the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio and the fourth-best turnover percentage in the NBA. Their starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews is averaging just 3.6 turnovers per game.
In other words, the Celtics will have to beat the Blazers, because the Blazers won’t beat themselves.
Kris Humphries, who was stellar with 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in Friday’s game, is back in the starting lineup. This is Humphries’ third straight start in place of Jared Sullinger, who has struggled recently but bounced back with 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Warriors.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: The road has suddenly gotten really rocky for the Portland Trail Blazers, but there’s a big difference between rockiness and being fazed enough to lose to a team near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics (12-24), losers of seven straight and 10 of their last 11 games, head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Blazers (27-9), who are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second-best record in the West. In a surprising shift from their red-hot start to the season, the Blazers have lost four of of six and have actually looked mortal in a couple of close games.
Still, Portland is led by All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and budding star point guard Damian Lillard. With those two, plus a productive Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez, the Blazers are built for bruising, tight-rotation games in the playoffs. They’re also built to victimize a team like the Celtics, whose players are all still searching for their roles. On the Blazers, every role is explicitly defined.
The Celtics will look to avoid finishing this five-game road swing without a single win to show for their travels. Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 10 p.m. ET.
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