Ford Keys to the Game: Trail Blazers 95, Celtics 99
Trail Blazers 95, Celtics 99
How does a man make the biggest shot of the game, from directly in front of the opponent's bench, after shooting just just 2-of-11 from the floor before that final attempt? Better yet, how does he even have the guts to take the shot?
Ice in his veins.
Paul Pierce was the hot hand for Boston tonight, and Ray Allen was the coldest hand on the court, but the Captain dished it off to his ever-reliable, sharpshooting teammate for the biggest basket of the game.
The Celtics build a 16-point fourth-quarter lead behind great play by Pierce and fantastic ball movement. The defense was up to snuff, too. But over the final five minutes of the game, the Celtics got away from the play that got them that lead and the Trail Blazers took advantage.
While the Celtics "tried to run the clock out," in the words of Doc Rivers, Portland rattled off 15 straight points to cut the Celtics' lead to one with 41.2 seconds remaining. The Blazers' zone completely shut down Boston's offense and lulled the C's to sleep.
On the final possession of the night for Boston, out of a timeout called by Rivers, the C's expected Portland to stick with the zone scheme that got them back into the game, and that's exactly what they did. In doing so, Boston knew that someone was going to be open, they just had to find him.
As Pierce and Kevin Garnett ran a high pick-and-roll action at the top of the key, Glen Davis freed up Allen with a pick as No. 20 floated to the sideline, directly in front of Portland's bench. Instead of running the pick-and-roll and taking the clutch shot himself, Pierce, who had shot 9-of-11 from the floor to that point, threw a laser pass to Allen, who was 2-of-11 to that point. Crazy thought, right? Not so much.
Without hesitation, Allen rose up and swished the clutch trey as if it was a two-foot layup attempt. The shot put Boston ahead by four points with 10.7 seconds remaining, effectively sealing the team's fifth straight victory.
Key Box Score Line
This game went nearly three quarters before either team could pull away, but that was before Paul Pierce decided to take over.
The Captain played a nearly perfect offensive game tonight, scoring a game-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. He also shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range and was perfect from the free-throw line on all six of his attempts. Ten of his points were racked up over the final 3:25 of the third quarter, in which the C's turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
In addition to his incredibly efficient offense, Pierce also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked a shot and grabbed one steal. It was an all-around performance from No. 34, one that the Celtics desperately needed to pull this game out in the second half.
Box Score Nuggets
- The two teams combined for only 58 rebounds in the game.
- Both teams shot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line: Portland shot 87.0 percent (20-of-23) and Boston shot 80.8 percent (21-of-26).
- Paul Pierce shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range for the C's, while Wesley Matthews made five of his seven shots from downtown for the Blazers.
- Pierce scored a game-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, 4-of-5 shooting from downtown and 6-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line.
- Four Trail Blazers scored at least 18 points, led by Matthews' 23.
- Three Celtics (Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis) grabbed at least seven rebounds, compared to only one Portland player (Marcus Camby with nine).
- Davis had another fantastic game off the bench with 16 points and seven rebounds.
- Only two Celtics grabbed an offensive rebound: Shaquille O'Neal (two) and Davis (one).
- Rajon Rondo notched another double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.
- Portland scored exactly 23 points in each of the final three quarters.
- Boston committed seven turnovers in the first quarter alone, but only 10 over the final three periods.
- Each team held a double-digit lead in the game.
- Camby's nine rebounds were a game-high.
- The Celtics shot 57.1 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from 3-point range and 80.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Quote of the Night
Shaquille O'Neal on Paul Pierce's offensive efficiency: "No, that’s why I labeled him the truth 10-12 years ago. He has it all: inside, outside, post. Great player and also a great teammate."