Daily Confidential

Paul Pierce didn't mind that the Boston Celtics' poor start made them angry. He just hoped they could use that emotion to get things turned around.

Following just their second win of the season, the Celtics (2-6) look to start building some momentum when they host the Portland Trail Blazers (4-5) at home Friday night.

Boston has gotten off to its worst start since the 1978-79 season because it has been unable to win close games. The Celtics ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday - one that came by a combined 11 points.

``It's OK to be frustrated,'' Pierce said Tuesday. ``That's part of the game. Guys don't like to lose.''

The day after Pierce's comments, the Celtics stopped their slide in convincing fashion, ripping Indiana 114-88. Boston only led by two at the break, but had 33 points in the third quarter and outscored the Pacers 67-43 in the second half.

Pierce had 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting and Wally Szczerbiak added 20.

``It always feels good to get a win,'' Pierce said. ``One of our first games we really put all four quarters together. We were really able to pick up our third quarter. That's where we've been having a problem.''

The Celtics are tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Friday is the finale of a three-game homestand for Boston. On Saturday, the Celtics face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Blazers have dropped three straight, the last two by a combined 25 points. Portland lost 100-87 to Cleveland on Wednesday night, as Zach Randolph scored 26 points but the rest of the Blazers starters combined for just 14.

``That team is much stronger than us,'' coach Nate McMillan said, referring to the Cavaliers. ``I thought we had some positives in that game, a couple of our young guys did some good things, but for the most part, Cleveland had control of the game throughout that game.''

McMillan said injuries to Joel Przybilla, Raef LaFrentz and rookie Brandon Roy have played a large part in the recent slide. LaFrentz has been out since the season opener; Przybilla has only played twice and Roy has missed three of the last four games because of a heel injury.

The Blazers are also playing without forward Darius Miles, who underwent surgery on his right knee and will miss the rest of the season.

``We need those guys,'' McMillan said. ``Right now, I'm searching for combinations and playing a lot of different combinations. Because of some key guys being out, we're creating a system as we go through it.''

The Celtics won both of last season's meetings with the Blazers and have won the last two matchups in Boston. Portland, though, has won seven of the last 11 games at TD Banknorth Garden.

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