Four straight road wins. Four straight wins by double digits. And three straight wins against teams above .500.
The Trail Blazers are red hot and rolling.
With Sunday night’s 129-119 win in Boston, Portland improves to 36-28, and combined with a Dallas home loss against Sacramento and Lakers home loss vs. Toronto, the Trail Blazers are now part of a three-way tie for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
“We’re trending in that direction, where we’re on the same page on defense and on the same page on offense,” said Damian Lillard following the win. “Guys are getting in better grooves. And we’re doing things that we haven’t been doing, which is defending, rebounding, sharing the ball and doing the small things that it takes to win games.”
Portland earned its 20th road win (20-12), just one shy of Phoenix for the league lead. This stretch also marks the first time in team history that the Trail Blazers have won four straight games by double figures on a single road trip.
“Great things take time. We’re playing better basketball at the right time, understanding the severity of each game, what we need to accomplish heading into the playoffs,” added CJ McCollum.
Portland’s three-guard lineup posted one of its most impressive games since the acquisition of Norman Powell, netting a combined 82 points. McCollum led the way with 33 on 12-20 shooting, Lillard recorded 26 points and 13 assists, and Powell added 23 points on 4-6 three-point shooting.
“Dame, CJ, Norm have been really good since we got Norm,” said head coach Terry Stotts. “It’s not something that’s just happened. Every game, it’s been a positive.”
The two teams were never separated by more than 10 points in a game that featured 16 lead changes. With the Blazers ahead by just two points after two Jayson Tatum free throws with 1:21 remaining, Carmelo Anthony buried a three-pointer that started an 8-0 run to put the game in the win column for Portland.
Anthony scored 13 points in all, reaching double figures in 11 straight games for the first time since Jan. 15-Feb. 4, 2018. He sits just 10 points from passing Elvin Hayes for 10th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The Blazers and Celtics shot themselves to a draw, 71-71, in the first half. Both teams made more than 50% of their field goal attempts and were even more prolific from behind the arc (Portland 10-17, Boston 12-20). The Blazers committed just one turnover in the first 24 minutes.
Jayson Tatum followed up his career-high, 60-point night on Friday vs. San Antonio by leading the Celtics with 33 against the Blazers, 24 of which came in the first half before Portland’s leader had something to say about it.
“Once he had that 24 in the first half, I was like ‘Let me guard him,’” said Lillard. “I’m strong enough to guard bigger guys and I can move laterally good enough, and I can get underneath them, make them a little bit more uncomfortable.”
Tatum only took six shots in scoring his nine second-half points, and the Blazers held the Celtics to 43.9% shooting from the field in those final two quarters.
The Trail Blazers are right back in action Monday night against the Hawks in the fifth of six games on the current trip. Tipoff in Atlanta is scheduled for 5 p.m.