The Portland Trail Blazers ended their seven-game losing streak tonight, defeating the Boston Celtics 92-86 in a game that featured intermittent contributions from Portland's Big 3 and a huge lift from a couple of unexpected sources.
The game started in typical Portland fashion. The Blazers seemed disinterested in defending, particularly in the lane. Boston got to the rim often while Portland bombed--and missed--from outside. The air went out of the Rose Garden crowd as the Celtics built an 11-4 lead. But Nicolas Batum set off some fireworks with his jumper and before you knew it the barn was burning. LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews fanned the flames, Matthews surprisingly scoring off the dribble. Paul Pierce, Boston's catalyst all night, had to sit with early foul trouble. Portland popped off with a 23-11 run to finish the period up 6, 27-21.
Normally the insertion of a couple bench players is enough to evaporate any lead the Blazers hold heading into the second period but tonight Portland's reserved acquitted themselves well. Victor Claver played defense, Meyers Leonard rebounded, Will Barton stayed out of crazy mode, and Eric Maynor didn't blow the game in his debut in a Portland uniform. (That may sound like faint praise but compare that outcome those generated by Portland's previous point guard reserves and you'll be pleased.) As usual Coach Stotts sprinkled in second unit players instead of subbing them wholesale and for once the lead held. A vicious run by Paul Pierce was required to close the gap at all and that came late in the quarter. Fortunately for Portland, Matthews stepped up again, making 2 three-pointers in 25 seconds, and Nicolas Batum added an offensive-rebound put back with 2 seconds remaining to push the lead back to 7 at the half. Run doused.
Matthews, Claver Help Blazers Overcome Celtics
Blazer's Edge | Feb 25