After a hot start, the Portland Trail Blazers sputtered through two quarters against the Boston Celtics. But Noah Vonleh inspired a late run, leading to fun finish between two inspired teams. The Celtics hit the clutch shots late, and held off the Blazers In the process, they're eliminated from the NBA Summer League tournament, but still have one more consolation game to play.
The Blazers were led by Malcolm Thomas (15 points, 4 rebounds), Tim Frazier (4 points, 8 assists), Ra'Shad James (20 points, 4 rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (20 points, 9 rebounds). Vonleh showed more signs that he may be ready to play a role on the Blazers' roster this fall, hitting from both inside and deep.
The Blazers shot 59% from the field in the first quarter to take a 28-23 lead. They eventually pushed it to a 37-27 lead, then promptly gave up 10 straight points. They fought to keep the game close, only to fall behind 47-43 at halftime.
Boston pressed Portland in the second half, and the Blazers had no response. The Blazers missed shot after shot, not scoring any points over a combined 12 minutes from the second to third quarters. Meanwhile, Boston quickly scored the first 7 points of the quarter, and leaped to a 15 point lead after a three-pointer late in the third. But the Blazers made a comeback, cutting the lead down to 7 on a Keith Bogans steal and layup. Boston led by 9 at the end of the third.
Boston responded by restoring an 11 point lead within a minute of the fourth quarter, featuring an alley-oop dunk. Noah Vonleh swished three three-pointers to keep things close. Portland found their groove, and an alley-oop from Tim Frazier followed by a layup by Vonleh cut the deficit to two, and forced a Boston timeout.
Out of the timeout, more Vonleh helped the Blazers to a three point lead, and all looked well for Portland. But Boston picked up the defense, forcing the Blazers out of their positions, and Portland missed an easy layup. The Celtics grabbed back the lead at the two minute mark. After a close call and an official replay, the Blazers got another chance with less than two minutes left. And they took advantage, as a Ra'Shad James jumper gave them the lead with a minute left. However, the Celtics got a three-point play to regain a two-point lead with 52 seconds left.
Vonleh grabbed an offensive board and forced a Boston goaltend to tie the game with 45 seconds left, and everyone braced for a wild finish. But despite an aggressive defensive effort, the Celtics swished a three-pointer to take control. Portland missed a three at the other end, and free throws finished off the Blazers.
The Blazers finish their Summer League with a game in the consolation bracket, Friday night at 7:30 against the Toronto Raptors.