In their fourth road game in five nights, the Blazers ran out of gas in Boston and lost badly, 116-93. The Blazers fell to 3-1 on their six game road trip and 33-29 overall. The Celtics visit the Moda Center on March 31st for a rematch.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 20 points and CJ McCollum with 17. The Celtics were paced by Isaiah Thomas who finished with 30 points.
The Blazers started hot, hitting 6 of their first 7 shots including a pair of McCollum threes. Any sign of fatigue from last night in New York seemed theoretical as the Blazers were running out in transition, causing turnovers, and getting good shots. The Celtics tried to go small with Jae Crowder at the 4 but this only allowed more penetration from the perimeter for the Blazers. The Blazers led by as many as 12 but the Celtics ended the quarter on a strong note with Marcus Smart playing some excellent defense and causing some Blazer turnovers. Lillard led the Blazers with 9 and a modest lead.
End of First: Portland 33 Boston 30
CJ McCollum reported for his point guard shift with glee and hit an acrobatic layup followed by his third three to keep the Blazers up. It was even more impressive because without Lillard, defensive standout Avery Bradley was guarding him tough. However, the Celtics second unit played them strongly and tied the game at 43 before the Blazers put back the starters. The Blazers bench has received plenty of deserved praise as of late but they still pale in comparison to the Celtics, who rely on their bench to win them games.
For the rest of the quarter, the Celtics and Blazers traded hard fought baskets and short leads with neither team gaining much separation. Lillard was giving the Celtics trouble but Isiah Thomas was giving the Blazers fits too with his quickness. Following a speedy All-star guard around the perimeter is not Lillard's favorite way to spend his 4th game in five nights and Thomas took advantage by racking up 19 by halftime. A pull up 3 by Thomas gave the Celtics a 6 point lead going into the locker room.
Halftime: Portland 55 Boston 61
The Celtics started right where they left off by scoring the first 7 points of the quarter. Lillard hit an awkward 3 to stop the bleeding but the damage was done. The Celtics were penetrating at will and rebounding anything they missed. The Blazers, probably tired, started reaching and being lazy on their closeouts. Defensively, Avery Bradley was denying Lillard at all costs and this kept the Blazers out of rhythm. Thomas hit a 3 to extend the lead to 18 midway through the quarter.
The rest of the quarter only seemed to go worse as the Blazers couldn't hit a shot to save their life and the Celtics turned a close game into a blow out. Lillard and McCollum looked gassed, Leonard looked a bit like his rookie self, and the Blazers couldn't create anything offensively. After the smoke cleared, the Blazers found themselves down 24. For those keeping score at home, the Celtics outscored them 30-12 in the third.
End of Third: Portland 67 Boston 91
Stotts started the quarter with a small lineup around Meyers Leonard to try to get back in the game with some 3 point shooting but it was for naught and the Blazers called it quits early in the fourth. The only highlight was the crowd's cheer for Pat Connaughton's three-pointer.
The Blazers have a day off before visiting the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Tip off is 4:30. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.