Even if you took the Boston Celtics’ road win over the Trail Blazers with a grain of salt, it was a really special one.
Between head coach Ime Udoka, a few on his coaching staff and Payton Pritchard, this was a homecoming of sorts that resulted in a dominant 145-117 win for Boston. One that Udoka felt compelled to apologize to Portland head coach Chauncey Billups for, kind of.
Pritchard had 19 points and hit five 3-pointers — some from way out — to get the crowd into it. After he drained one in the closing minutes, Grant Williams pretended to resuscitate Dennis Scrhöder who laid out on the sideline in celebration of the sophomore guard’s shot.
The bench received a technical.
“You want to see him do well. Obviously the crowd is very supportive. Hometown hero, basically,” Udoka told reporters after the game.
“It got a little out of hand, you know, to some extent now with our guys getting overzealous a little bit and getting the technical. We told them in the locker room to keep that professional. And then, you know, Payton is a young guy that’s shooting it well, playing well and what we would have like to do is slow that down. We got three offensive rebounds, and we’re getting it back up with 10, 9 seconds. We want to hold that, and respect the game — so I did apologize to Chauncey at the end for that. You know, didn’t mean to get out of hand like that. And that’s when things can get heated on the court.
Pritchard also had two rebounds, three assists and a steal in 18 minutes off the bench. He also didn’t think his team necessarily deserved the tech.
“I mean, (we’re) hitting shots so I don’t know what they want us to do,” Pritchard said. “I mean, at the same time, I get it if you’re like free-balling it but we just (were) playing ball, hitting shots.”
With Pritchard growing up in Oregon and deciding to play collegiate basketball for the flagship state university, obviously emotions naturally would run a little higher.
Udoka likely understands that. Especially playing in his home state for the first time as a head coach in the NBA.
“There’s a first for everything, as I mentioned, whether it’s playing against the teams I’ve coached with or played for and this one obviously means a little bit more. It’s special coming home. Ton of family and friends here and first in this capacity so obviously means a lot,” Udoka said pregame.
Winning makes it sweeter.
“But for myself personally, it’s good to come back to your family and friends briefly, but also handle business.”