Friday, January 23, 2015

Celtics 90 - Trail Blazers 89: C's Get First Win Out West

Photo: Getty Images
Portland - Another clutch three-pointer from Evan Turner while the game was on the line for the Boston Celtics. Only this time around there was no overtime, only a shocking 90-89 victory for the C's at the Moda Center.

Turner finished with 10 points (2-of-4 from 3) to go along with 8 assists and six boards, but no shot bigger than the 3-ball dagger that ended up being the game winner with one second remaining, to snap the Celtics 24-game losing streak on the road to the Western Conference.

Jared Sullinger, who missed the three-point attempt in the closing seconds, dove onto the floor for the loose ball and found a wide open Turner in the corner for one more shot, Sully finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds (5 offensive).

Avery Bradley led all Celtics with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, while Brandon Bass added 13 points and 10 rebounds in his only start all year, that resulted in Boston's first win out west this season (1-4).

Just before tip-off, Portland had learned that they would be without their leading scorer and rebounder, LaMarcus Aldridge, for 6-8 weeks due to a torn ligament in his left thumb. They got a big boost from veteran Chris Kaman, who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.

Damian Lillard led all scorers with 21points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Wesley Matthews chipped in with 18 points (4-of-8 from the 3), as the Trail Blazers remain the second seed out west at 31-13.

Brad Stevens made a change in his starting lineup, electing to go with Bass instead of Tyler Zeller, stating he wanted to see Sullinger and Bass play together

"We're not accomplished enough to say we have to have one starting lineup right now," said Stevens during pregame.

After a back and forth first half, it seemed like neither team could miss a shot and were evenly matched, Boston led 44-42 at intermission. Portland jumped out to a 56-52 lead in the middle of the third, before Nicolas Batum left the game pulling off tape from his right wrist and didn't return. The Trail Blazers then pushed it to, 72-67, to end the quarter on a Lillard dunk.

In the fourth, Kelly Olynyk rolled his ankle chasing down a rebound, and went to the locker room and didn't return. Down the stretch and after a pair of made free-throws by Thomas Robinson, the Blazers would go up 89-87 with 26.6 seconds remaining.

Jared Sullinger attempted a 3-pointer at the top of the key, but missed and grabbed his own rebound. With time running out he decided to drive instead only to have the ball stripped and in the scramble, the forward from a upright sitting position not only came up with the ball, he found a wide open Evan Turner in the right corner, who buried the three with a second left.

Lillard was unable to get a shot off after the Trail Blazers called timeout and suffered their second consecutive loss in their back-to-back.

Despite the Celtics almost letting it slip away in the third quarter, they shot a healthy 45-percent from the field and 37-percent from deep (7-19). With Aldridge out for Portland, the C's were able to win the battle on the boards (47-45) and take it it the hoop more often than just settling for jumpers.

Boston will look to make it two wins in a row when they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets in their second of a back-to-back later tonight. Tip-off is at 9.

Game Notes:

Tayshaun Prince had another good outing in his second game as a Celtic, scoring 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting including making his only 3-point attempt in 24 minutes off the bench. It's still unknown how bad Kelly Olynyk's injury is after he left the game early in the fourth quarter. The second-year forward missed 10-games last season due to a sprained ankle. Boston only made it to the free-throw line seven times on Thursday night, going 5-of-7 to Portland's 14-of-19.

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