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Blazers Restrain Tatum but Fall to Celtics in Summer League Game 2

Portland fulfills one assignment but blows plenty of others, losing a guard and the game.

Zach Collins tips off against the Boston Celtics.
The Blazers’ Caleb Swanigan watches as Zach Collins tips off against the Boston Celtics at NBA Summer League.
David MacKay - Blazer’s Edge

The Portland Trail Blazers played Summer League Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Fresh off a victory in Game 1, the Blazers came in hopeful against a tough Boston lineup featuring acclaimed rookie Jayson Tatum. Their hope was short-lived. The Celtics opened the game with a scoring barrage and never looked back on their way to a 70-64 victory.

Game Recap

This game started rough for Portland. They ran two early plays for Pat Connaughton, but those came up empty. Boston had no such trouble, as Jaylen Brown hit back-to-back three-pointers. Jayson Tatum added a three-point play, and Boston opened with a 11-0 run. Jake Layman scored a layup to break the run, thanks to a nifty pass from Caleb Swanigan.

When Boston’s scoring finally dried up, the Blazers chipped away at the lead. They pulled to within 11-9 before the Celtics settled down. Boston held an 18-15 lead after the first quarter.

That lead didn’t last long; R.J. Hunter’s three-pointer tied the game at 18 early in the second quarter. Then the Celtics regained control, scoring the next 7 points for a 25-18 advantage. The run included a Brown dunk that brought the house down.

After that, Portland just couldn’t find the net. Layman missed multiple threes, and Boston took advantage. They jumped to a 32-22 lead, taking advantage of Portland’s repeated mistakes...bad enough that Blazers color commentator Lamar Hurd admitted to the audience that this game was “ugly”. Adding injury to insult, Portland’s Markel Brown got leveled on a legal screen and went to the locker room holding his shoulder. He would not return to the game. Despite a couple nice moments for the Blazers, Boston led 38-24 at halftime.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter until Hunter completed a three-point play. Connaughton scored on a gimme and a goaltend, but Portland still had trouble getting the deficit below 10. At best they traded buckets; at worst they just didn’t make any. Portland featured the same semi-permissive, slow-close-out perimeter defense they showed against the Utah Jazz in Game 1. Boston didn’t need more than a couple threes to preserve their advantage. A triple from Portland forward Jarnell Stokes with two seconds remaining cut the Celtics’ lead to 54-44 heading into the final period but still...double digits.

If Portland had any hopes of a comeback, Boston burned those away in the opening moments of the fourth. They hit an open jumper, splashed an open three, missed a layup then converted it into an offensive rebound. The standing 8-count headed into knockout territory. The Celtics pushed the lead to 63-45 before Portland converted a field goal.

The end of the fourth was typical summer league. Play had been messy all game long. Midway through the quarter the refs seemed to notice. The game closed with an extended parade to the foul line for both teams. Making up double-digit deficits by ones is difficult even when you’re getting all the calls. The Blazers weren’t. A late three and a layup from Connaughton made the score look respectable, but Boston still walked off with the 70-64 win.

Significant Stats

Pat Connaughton: 11 points on 5-11 shooting in 32 minutes

Caleb Swanigan: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 personal fouls on 4-12 shooting in 30 minutes

Zach Collins: 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks on 1-7 shooting in 29 minutes

Jake Layman 1-13 shooting, 0-5 from distance in 31 minutes

Combined Portland’s “Big 4” shot 11-43.

Portland held Boston to 37.9% shooting from the field but allowed 36% on three-point attempts.

The Blazers held Jayson Tatum to 11 points and 7 rebounds on 4-11 shooting. They just never scored enough to take advantage of it.

Box Score

What’s Next

The Blazers, now 1-1 in Summer League competition, have a day off to prepare for an Tuesday afternoon tilt against the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, Blazer’s Edge has more coverage from Las Vegas. David MacKay will bring you quotes and interviews while Steve Dewald and Brian Freeman provide their postgame perspectives this evening.