Boston Celtics: 2013Game56
"It was one of those, 'My bad,' games, you know?" Rivers told reporters after the game. "I told our guys, we just had so many of them -- 'My faults' -- where we just lost sight of guys, offensive rebounds, timely. We didn't finish any quarter right. Every quarter they made a run. At the end of (the first half), at the end of the fourth quarter, at the end of the third. It was a terrible game, but give them credit. They made some big shots."
While Rivers was satisfied with Boston's defensive effort on two of Portland's biggest stars -- rookie Damien Lillard (12 points on 5-of-16 shooting) and All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge (16 points, four rebounds) -- he pointed to the trio of J.J. Hickson, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews as the difference-makers for the Blazers. All three scored in double-figures, with Hickson adding 11 rebounds and Matthews providing a game-sealing 3-pointer with under a minute to play.
"Those three. I said it before the game: When they win, those three play well," Rivers said. "I thought all three of those guys -- I mean, Hickson had some timely rebounds and energy plays. And I thought, again, we did a terrific job on Lillard without trapping. Avery (Bradley) was just phenomenal. And Aldridge had a good game, but it wasn't a dominant game. But then you've got to stop the other guys and where I was not happy was we just lost sight of guys. Some of it was good offense, some of it was we didn't play defense the way we're capable of."
THE NITTY GRITTY
Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, hitting five 3-pointers, including a clutch triple in the final minute that helped Portland emerge with the win. Damian Lillard added a mild 12 points to go along with six assists and six rebounds, but his old-fashioned three-point play with 1:32 to go provided the winning points. Nick Batum (18 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points) did their part, while J.J. Hickson added a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) for the Blazers. Paul Pierce looked like he was taking over the game at times, finishing with 23 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds over 32 minutes to pace Boston. Kevin Garnett added 20 points and nine rebounds after sitting out Friday's win in Phoenix, but Boston's bench mustered a mere 19 total points.
The Celtics were down eight with under six minutes to go, but made a little charge that featured scoring on five straight possessions, culminating with a Garnett layup to tie the game at 86 with 1:46 to play. Unfazed, the Blazers attacked with Lillard in the pick-and-roll and, when Avery Bradley got snagged going over the top, Lillard got to the hoop for the layup and the foul. Pierce missed a tying triple at the other end and Matthews provided the dagger with a step-back 3-pointer with 53 ticks to go.
C's COME BACK TO EARTH
After scorching the Suns while putting up 113 points in Friday's win in Phoenix, the Celtics labored in the first half against Portland, shooting a mere 37.8 percent (17 of 45 overall). Green, coming off a 31-point outburst in a spot start against the Suns, missed 6 of 8 shots in the first half, while newcomers Jordan Crawford and Terrence Williams missed all six shots they put up in that same span. Portland shot 51.4 percent (19 of 37 overall), but only led by seven at the intermission. Green finished the game with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting and was a team-worst minus-17 in plus/minus, while the rest of the bench was a mere 3-of-14 shooting for 8 measly points.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers, unhappy with whistles early on, got tagged with a technical foul midway through the first quarter. Rivers now has five techs this season, including two in Boston's last three games.
WHAT IT MEANS
A tough loss for the Celtics, who made the late charge and looked like they were going to find a way to win despite playing lackluster ball for much of the night. Boston falls to 1-3 on this five-game road trip with a tough finale looming Monday in Utah. If Friday's win in Phoenix without Garnett was of the "feel-good" variety, this one will be filed in the "kicking themselves" category by Boston. The Celtics have to battle through any weary legs Monday knowing they have only one game over the following seven days.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter weighs in on the Panthers' WR situation, Julian Edelman's future with the Patriots, Vince Wilfork's decision to ask for his release and more.
Play Podcast "Spanning the Globe" features ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm and ESPN LA 710's Mark Willard.
Play Podcast Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about whether he expected his team to make such a turnaround in one season, his relationship with his players, fans' expectations for the squad and more.