Damian Lillard strung together a pretty mediocre performance Sunday night compared to the standard he has set for himself this season. Still, he managed to make the play of the game that led the Trail Blazers to a victory over the Celtics in Portland.
The game was tied up at 86-86 after Kevin Garnett hit a driving layup with 1:46 remaining. That bucket capped a 6-0 run by the C’s to tie the game up. Every drip of momentum was in Boston’s hands… until Lillard came through in the clutch.
Avery Bradley had been harassing Lillard all night long with ball pressure and that’s why Portland chose to set a screen on Bradley nearly 30 feet from the basket. Bradley couldn’t get over that screen in time to catch up with Lillard, who turned the corner and attacked the rim to put home a layup in traffic. The kicker was that he made the shot despite being fouled by Brandon Bass. Lillard’s free throw put Portland on top 89-86 with 1:32 remaining in the game.
The Celtics immediately called for a timeout but Pierce missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. At the other end of the floor, Wesley Matthews canned a trey for the Trail Blazers to make it a six-point game with 53.9 seconds left on the clock.
Matthews’ 3-pointer was the dagger but Lillard’s driving three-point play was the game-changer. Boston couldn’t recover, and Lillard chipped in with an offensive rebound to end the game and send the C’s to a 1-3 record on their five-game road trip.
Key Box Score Line
To put it simply, the Celtics did not have it Sunday night. Paul Pierce, however, did.
Pierce neared a triple-double yet again on Sunday by tallying a team-high 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists. His eight assists led the game and Kevin Garnett (nine rebounds) was the only Boston player who grabbed more rebounds than him.
The Celtics’ captain had it going on offense from start to finish. He was the only player on Boston’s team who made more than half of his shots, as he shot 9-of-16 on the night. Pierce also somehow committed only one turnover despite the team running the majority of its offense through him.
This game would have been a blowout in Portland’s favor if Pierce wasn’t around. He nearly carried his team to a victory on a night in which his teammates truly struggled.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce (23 points) and Kevin Garnett (20 points) were the only Celtics to score more than 11.
- Pierce (seven rebounds) and Garnett (nine rebounds) were also the only Celtics to finish with more than five boards.
- In a rare occasion, Garnett (32:30) actually played 31 more seconds than Pierce (31:59).
- Portland outrebounded the Celtics 47-36.
- Four of Portland's five starters attempted between 11 and 16 shots.
- J.J. Hickson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
- The Celtics outscored the Trail Blazers 36-32 in the paint.
- Boston scored 16 points off of 16 Portland turnovers.
- The C's shot just 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) from downtown.
- Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 24 points, including five 3s.
- All five of Portland's starters scored at least 11 points, and none of its bench players scored more than four.
Quote of the Night
I thought when we needed stops we couldn't get them. I thought when we had the chance to turn the corner, we didn't turn it. Kevin Garnett on Boston's performance Sunday night