USA TODAY Sports Images
The Blazers beat the Celtics to finally end a seven-game losing streak and win their first game in three weeks.
The Blazers were led by five starters in double figures, with Wesley Matthews (24 points, 8-11 FG, 5-8 3P), Nicolas Batum (18 points, 6 rebounds), and LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points) Portland's high scorers on the night.
First Quarter: The game started off with Boston scoring a lot of points and Portland scoring none. Portland's offense: clank, clank, clank. However, Batum drew Paul Pierce's second foul midway through the quarter, and the Blazers were able to soon draw close to the visitors. The positive Portland play continued through most of the quarter, with a Batum three-pointer capping off a 9-0 run to lead Boston by 3 with 4 minutes remaining. Amazingly, the Blazer tactic of letting Matthews dribble the ball was effective. Good play from Matthews and Meyers Leonard and a hilarious missed dunk attempt by Kevin Garnett gave Portland a six-point advantage at the first intermission.
Second Quarter: Apparently Eric Maynor made his debut during the first quarter. I was probably busy laughing at Noted Annoying Person Kevin Garnett's missed dunk. Anyway, the second quarter began without much change from the first quarter, with the Blazers continuing their good play. The bench extended (!?) the lead (!!!???), with Victor Claver and Maynor showing encouraging signs. Damian Lillard marked his return to the action with a very impressive left-handed layup that drew rave reviews from the Boston television crew, making the score 38-27 to the home team.
Predictably, the Wesley Matthews Dribbling Experiment began to unravel and Paul Pierce exerted his influence on the game, dishing out three assists in quick succession, cutting the Blazer edge to two and forcing Terry Stotts to call timeout. Wesley Matthews then hit two three-pointers to close the half out, with only continued excellence from Pierce keeping the Celtics within 7 at the half.
Third Quarter: That pesky trend of Boston scoring more than Portland to open a half returned. Paul Pierce took total control of the game, easily dispatching Batum's attempts to stop him. A Stotts timeout finally stopped the Celtics run, but not before they had re-taken the lead. The Portland offense consisted of several players dribbling aimlessly and nearly losing the ball, with a Blazer then forced to attempt an off-balance jump shot to beat the shot clock.
We have not had a good offensive possession since the mid 2nd quarter, or whenever it was when I started watching.
Despite the lack of fluidity, Portland's hot jump-shooting kept the Blazers clinging to a slight lead. Both benches entered the game and did very little, leaving the Blazers with a 4 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Sloppy play by both sides to start the quarter, with the Blazer offense continuing to sputtering. Batum drew a terrible Boston foul on a hopeless three-pointer. It epitomized the Blazer offense on the night that he attempted the same move a few possessions later, the shot falling about two feet short of the rim with no foul shots forthcoming. The Blazers made a few three-pointers, building an eight-point lead that they would generally hold until about the five minute mark.
Finally capitalizing on Portland's inability to generate easy baskets, Garnett and Pierce led a Boston comeback that tied the game with 1:46 remaining. Luckily for Portland, Damian Lillard took control of the Blazers offense at the other end, using a pick to get by Avery Bradley and finish at the rim for a three-point play. The Lillard play ended up being the tipping point, as the Celtics failed to score thereafter, a Lillard offensive rebound ending the game.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule.