PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A big Boston win had Celtics coach Doc
Rivers changing his tune about the return of the leather ball.
Tony Allen had 22 points and eight rebounds and the Celtics
ended their six-game slide with an 89-81 win over the Portland
Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Rookie Brandon Roy had 18 points to lead the Blazers, who went
cold in the fourth quarter and let the Celtics build a big lead.
Neither team shot well, perhaps because of the return of the
Rivers had complained that the new ball gave Portland an
advantage because the Celtics played Sunday night with the
composite ball and weren't able to have a shootaround between games
to get acclimated to the leather one.
After Monday's game, he was just happy to have the win.
"I could care less about the ball," Rivers. "I did think they
might have an advantage with it, but at the end of the day, when
the tap goes up everybody's playing with the same ball, just like
we were yesterday."
"It was a defensive win," Rivers said. "Ryan Gomes was
phenomenal. He obviously had a lot of help, but he was just denying
Zach the ball and trapping him on the catch. I thought our guys
executed the game plan and stayed with it -- that got us the win."
Minnesota and Charlotte played in the only other NBA game
Monday, when the leather ball made its return.
After numerous complaints about the synthetic ball introduced at
the beginning of the season, the league decided to switch back to
the old ball.
Neither team played well, but Portland was more lethargic,
having last played Saturday at Utah.
"This time of year we need to be focused and dialed in ... we
need to establish ourselves both on offense and defense," Webster
Portland shot better than 60 percent in the first quarter, but
finished 28-of-72 from the field (38.9 percent).
The Celtics shot 43 percent for the game.
Portland led by as many as eight points in the first half,
taking a 31-23 lead early in the second quarter. The Celtics
whittled the lead down when the Blazers went cold in the second.
Szczerbiak hit two free throws and Delonte West hit a running
jumper to tie it 44-all at halftime.
Boston led 68-67 at the end of the third on Gerald Green's
rebound and putback.
The Blazers suffered through a 9:46 stretch in the fourth in
which they went 0-for-11 from the field with five turnovers and
just six points. Szczerbiak scored to make it 76-72 and Allen had
back-to-back baskets, the last one a 3-pointer, to stretch the lead
"We are not playing hard," Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
"If you don't compete hard enough in this league you're not going
to beat anybody."
Webster hit his third 3-pointer of the night to get Portland
within 83-79 at 1:26. But Szczerbiak made a steal and layup, and
West hit two free throws.
Sebastian Telfair had an uneventful return to Portland, with two
points and three assists in 17 minutes for the Celtics. Telfair
played two seasons for the Blazers after being drafted out of
Abraham Lincoln High School in New York in 2004, but was traded to
Boston on draft day last June. The 6-foot point guard entered the
game averaging 8.7 points and 4.1 assists for the Celtics, but was
replaced in the starting lineup last week by West.
Boston has beaten the Blazers four straight times. ...
Jefferson had his 11th double-double. ... The Celtics had 50 points
in the paint to Portland's 28.