First impressions: Celtics 99, Blazers 95
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored game-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting (connecting on 4-of-5 3-pointers), while Rajon Rondo posted another double-double (10 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds as Boston hung on for a gritty win. The Celtics overcame 17 turnovers that led to 21 points for the Blazers.
The Celtics were staring at a six-point deficit with 4:31 to play in the third quarter, but held Portland without a field goal the rest of the frame, the Blazers settling for four LaMarcus Aldridge free throws as Boston embarked on a 17-4 run to open their biggest lead of the night. Pierce highlighted the spurt with a pair of 3-pointers before Garnett hit a 19-foot fadeaway to close out the third quarter with Boston on top, 79-72. That proved to be just enough for Boston to hang on for victory.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Celtics, dominant in points in the paint during this recent winning streak, were actually outscored, 42-38, by the Blazers in the ink, but still found a way to shoot 57.1 percent (36 of 63) from the floor.
Guard Ray Allen labored all night, hitting just 3 of 12 shots for nine points. But, true to form, he saved a dagger of a 3-pointer for the final moments, putting a nail in the coffin by capping the scoring and putting the Blazers behind by two possessions with 10 ticks to go.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics have now won five straight, even if this was hardly the prettiest. Boston committed 10 first-half turnovers leading to 14 points for the Blazers and still only trailed by a point at the intermission (49-48) and only because Wesley Matthews hit a quartet of 3-pointers, including one with 0.3 seconds to play in the second quarter. The Celtics were up by 16 with five minutes to go and still nearly let this one slip away. But, like a veteran team, they made the big plays when it mattered most.
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