The game had been over for a while.
As part of the Celtics’ substitutions, second-year guard Payton Pritchard came back into the game. Pritchard, a Portland native and alumnus of West Linn High School and the University of Oregon, was playing in front of his hometown crowd for the first time in the NBA.
He had played in 13 minutes with only three points when he entered the game with 5:51 to play, but by game’s end, Pritchard totaled a season-high 19 points after scoring just 30 total points in 18 previous appearances this season.
Udoka told reporters that he apologized to Blazers coach Chauncey Billups following the game.
Ime Udoka said he was happy for Payton Pritchard, but also apologized to Chauncey Billups because the Celtics got out of hand celebrating for Pritchard and trying to get him chances during the final moments.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 5, 2021
Whether Udoka, Pritchard and the Celtics broke the unwritten rule to play through the motions during garbage time, it had no real impact on the game. Maybe it was part of why Billups was so frustrated during his postgame press conference.
If anything, maybe Pritchard’s performance combined with the Blazers’ will help get this team closer to turning it around.