Saturday, March 24, 2018

Celtics 105 - Trail Blazers 100: Marcus Morris leads fourth quarter rally in comeback win

It was a another opportunity for the injury-ravaged Celtics to stop yet again a red-hot Western Conferance team, as Marcus Morris led the charge in a 105-100 comeback win against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center late Friday night.

For those who stayed up late to witness the Celtics rally from being down 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter and use a 18-6 run midway through the period to beat the Blazers -- winners of 13 of their last 14 games -- got a real treat.

Marcus Morris, who led all scorers with 30 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, spoke to teammate Al Horford (11 points, 3 rebounds) while they both were on the bench at the start of the final frame.
"We had a little conversation at the start of the fourth and said to each other, `If we come out strong and get this (lead) down we've got a great chance to come back and win this game," Morris said.
The Celtics did just that, behind Terry Rozier, who finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and Jayson Tatum, who added 13 points -- 10 of which he scored in the fourth -- to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Damian Lillard (8 assists) and CJ McCollum (7 rebounds) each led Portland with 26 points a piece and have now lost two in row after their 13-game win streak since the All-Star break was snapped.

The Trail Blazers led by as many as 12 points and were up 77-67 at the end of the third quarter before the Celtics took back their first led in the fourth on a Morris 3-pointer to make it 85-84 with 6:30 left.

McCollum scored five straight unanswered points to give the Blazers a 91-87 lead, while Horford responded on the other end with a three and the Celtics were only down by one.

With the game tied 96-96 and 1:45 to go, Tatum hit a go-ahead driving layup and Morris followed that up with a three-pointer, as the shot clock expired to put the Celtics up for good.

The closet the Blazers would come was within three after McCollum hit a shot with 28.3 seconds left and Portland trailed 103-100.

Morris finished just one shy of his season-high in points, which he set just over a week ago in the Celtics double overtime loss against his brother Markieff and the Washington Wizards.
"He's healthy, he's confident and he's just playing very assertive right now. He's playing really great right now, he's in a good rhythm and just hitting big shot after big shot. Happy to see him have another really big game," said Al Horford afterwards.
It's the second time this week that the Celtics rallied from a double-digit deficit to a team with a top-four record in the Western Conferance, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Garden on Tuesday night.

Boston is now 49-23 on the season and 4.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the best record in the East. They'll look to take advantage of some momentum when they head to Sacramento on Sunday to continue their four-game western swing.

Game Notes:

The Celtics outscored the Trail Blazers' bench 26-13, as Brad Stevens continues to rely heavily on Greg Monroe -- 10 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in 20 minutes -- and Shane Larkin -- 9 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 34 minutes.

Kyrie Irving, who has missed five straight games, will have a 'minimally invasive' procedure done on his sore left knee Saturday and no timetable has been set on his possible return. Jaylen Brown has missed his sixth consecutive outing, while he continues to be in the NBA's concussion protocol, but says he should return on Sunday against the Kings.

Joel Pavón

Photo used is courtesy of the Associated Press

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