The Trail Blazers secured their fourth consecutive victory after dispatching the Celtics in a 129-119 contest that featured an eye-popping amount of offense. Both squads crossed the 70-point threshold the first half, but it was the Blazers that did just enough in the second half to escape with another road win. Individually, CJ McCollum led the way with 33 points. Damian Lillard and Norman Powell also crossed the 20-point threshold in Sunday’s result.
Fueled by Powell’s pace in the open floor, the Blazers set the tone of the first six minutes of action. Portland transformed rebounds into quick looks on the opposite end and caught Boston’s starting unit off guard. Trailing by a 16-9 margin, the Celtics emerged from a timeout to find their rhythm. In just under two minutes, the Celtics reeled off a 10-2 run that put them out in front of the Blazers.
The final three minutes of the frame featured a free-flowing barrage of three-pointers. Jayson Tatum could not miss and he pushed the Celtics’ three-point percentage to 50 percent in the quarter. The Blazers were not to be outdone, though. Thanks to a quick flurry from Lillard, CJ McCollum and Anfernee Simons, Portland erased Boston’s six-point lead in the final minute to finish the quarter with a 34-32 lead.
Both teams continued their blistering pace from distance in the second quarter. From step-backs to catch-and-shoot looks, the Celtics and Blazers put together lengthy sequences where the ball found nothing but the bottom of the net. Tatum, after a brief break, returned to action to erupt for 16 points in the quarter. Despite a complete lack of defense, both teams failed to establish enough momentum to generate a sizable lead. As the halftime score raced to 142 combined points, the game remained in a window that was separated by just a pair of possessions at any given moment.
The Celtics headed to the locker room with 71 points at the break thanks to a 60-percent shooting mark from beyond the arc. The Blazers also notched 71 points and shot a slightly-lower 58.8 percent on their three-pointers. After 24 minutes, the score was level.
Portland’s offense shifted from a perimeter-centric attack to a potent three-level exhibition after the halftime break. Lillard served as a perfect maestro and logged six assists in the frame—matching his output from the first two quarters. Nurkic and Enes Kanter got into the action thanks to Lillard’s craftsmanship in two-man actions.
For the Celtics, Tatum’s pace finally cooled and he recorded just two points after a 24-point first half. Evan Fournier, after seven consecutive makes, finally missed his first attempt just after the halfway point of the third quarter.
Buoyed by steady offense and a stream of turnovers from the Celtics, the Blazers carved out a 103-98 advantage.
Boston’s second unit battled back in the early moments of the fourth quarter and cut Portland’s lead to a single point. Off the bench, Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard continued their near-perfect night on the offensive end. After four minutes, the Blazers returned to a starter-heavy lineup in order to protect a slim 107-106 lead. In just under two minutes, Portland’s re-tooled rotation completed a 6-0 run that triggered a Boston timeout before the halfway point of the quarter.
As the game headed toward the final stretch, Marcus Smart and McCollum engaged in a point-for-point exchange. Still, it was McCollum’s three-point heavy sequences that forced another Celtics timeout as they fell behind by seven points at the 3:40 mark of the quarter. Again, Boston rallied after a break to get the score to 120-117. That momentum left the arena after Smart and Nurkic collided on a screen with 1:56 remaining. Following a long replay intermission, Nurkic was whistled for an offensive foul and Smart was ejected for delivering a punch to the Bosnian jewels.
The Celtics managed to squeeze the Blazers’ lead to two points with just over a minute left. Carmelo Anthony countered Boston’s push with an ice-cold three-pointer. On the next possession, Powell snatched a loose ball and took it coast to coast for a quick bucket. From there, the Blazers cruised to a 129-119 win.
Stay tuned for Dave Deckard’s extended analysis later tonight.