Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 88, Trail Blazers 78
Celtics 88, Trail Blazers 78
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Celtics got the job done tonight in Portland and opened up their four-game West Coast trip with an 88-78 victory over the Trail Blazers.
In what was easily the ugliest game of the season that the Celtics have taken part in, points didn’t come easy. Neither team scored more than 24 points in any of the four quarters, and both teams shot less than 47 percent from the field. In addition to the poor shooting, the teams combined for a sloppy 38 turnovers (21 by Boston, 17 by Portland).
In the end, though, the Celtics did what championship teams do. They found a way to win.
While Boston’s starters grinded out the majority of tonight’s game, it was an interesting group of reserves, along with Rajon Rondo, who helped spark the C’s to victory in the deciding quarter.
Doc Rivers sent a fivesome of Rondo, Von Wafer, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis and Semih Erden onto the floor to begin the final period, much the result of his starters being ahead of their projected minutes when the third quarter came to a close. And so with the C’s leading 64-58 heading into the final stanza, it was a group of reserves who were leaned on to give valuable minutes and give the C’s a chance to win. That group did all it could to put Boston in a winning position, and in turn it completely removed any chance Portland had of winning this game.
It all started when Erden was fouled under the basket and he nailed both free throws to open up the scoring in the final period. After Boston forced two consecutive misses by the Trail Blazers, Rondo drove to the rack and put home an easy layup to put the C’s ahead by 10, their largest lead of the night. When Luke Babbitt answered Rondo’s layup with one of his own at the other end and then Daniels missed a 3-pointer in the left corner on Boston’s next possession, it looked like the two second units were bound to trade buckets. That’s before Wafer made his impact on the game.
The Blazers brought the ball up court to their offensive end of the floor and Wafer stepped in to grab a steal from Rudy Fernandez. He took the ball coast-to-coast for an impressive layup in traffic that prompted Boston’s starters to jump up off the bench and cheer him on. The second unit went on to force Patrick Mills into a miss at the other end that led to a Wafer rebound. Nine seconds later, Erden was fouled again by LaMarcus Aldridge and hit both of his free throws to bump the lead up to 12.
Aldridge, who was by far Portland’s most productive player tonight with 17 points and 16 rebounds, had some issues taking care of the ball and his fourth and final turnover of the game helped to put this one away for Boston. He posted up about five feet outside the lane and made a move, which was defended well by the C’s, and then tried to spin and pass the ball off to his teammate. In the process, Aldridge took one too many steps and was whistled for a travel.
Wafer went on to hit one of the sweetest shots of the night on a seven-foot runner down the left side of the lane that splashed through with 8:14 remaining in the game. His second and final basket of the night put Boston ahead by 14 points, and the starters came in to hold on for the win in the final minutes.
Although the odd group of role players and Rondo was only on the court together for a few minutes, its energy and defense are what won the game. The 10-2 run to open up the fourth quarter turned a close game into a near-blowout and took a whole lot of stress off of the starters’ backs in the first night of a challenging back-to-back.
Key Box Score Line
Kendrick Perkins has come back to the lineup with ridiculous production, so he has to get some love here. Perk nearly grabbed a double-double with his 10 points and nine rebounds in just his second game back from offseason knee surgery, and he helped keep the C’s in this game with his energy and hustle. He managed to rack up those stats in less than 21 minutes of play.
But while Perk came up huge in the third, another Celtic was busy keeping the Celtics afloat all night long. Kevin Garnett nearly grabbed his first triple-double since February of 2007, against the Celtics, with his 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Garnett’s ability to find teammates for baskets was especially critical tonight, as Rajon Rondo (five assists, six turnovers) just wasn’t on his game. KG had a plus/minus rating of plus-13, and his offensive rebound off of a missed free throw by Marquis Daniels with 42 seconds remaining helped to seal Boston’s win.
He didn’t reach the triple-double tonight, but Garnett couldn’t care less. He isn’t into numbers. Instead, he’s into wins, and he was essential in Boston grabbing its 35th victory of the season tonight.
Box Score Nuggets
- Ray Allen scored a game-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers. He is now 18 3-pointers shy of breaking Reggie Miller's record for all-time 3-pointers made.
- Kevin Garnett recorded a game-high nine assists. He was just one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double.
- LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
- Portland grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in the game.
- The teams combined for 38 turnovers (21 by Boston, 17 by Portland).
- Rajon Rondo committed a game-high six turnovers, while Aldridge led the Blazers with four.
- Every player who appeared in the game scored at least two points.
- Boston (33) attempted 20 more free throws than Portland (13).
- The Trail Blazers shot only 36.7 percent in the game.
- In just his second game of the season, Kendrick Perkins nearly grabbed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds in only 20:39 of playing time.
- There were only six blocked shots in the game (four by Boston, two by Portland).
- Portland finished with 13 steals, and four Trail Blazers had at least two apiece.
- The Trail Blazers attempted 90 shots, compared to only 64 by the Celtics.
- Six different Celtics finished with one offensive rebound.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the physicality of tonight's game: "[Portland] played extremely hard tonight, and you knew they would (by) reading the papers about how physical they were going to be with us. When we read that we actually like it. That means [the game] is going to be played our way."