Keys to the Game

Keys to the Game: Celtics 97, Trail Blazers 96

Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

There’s really no debate here. Al Horford hit a game-winning, fadeaway jumper at the buzzer Sunday afternoon to give the Celtics a 97-96 win over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.

Boston took possession of the ball with 7.2 seconds left after Damian Lillard converted on a three-point play to give Portland a one-point lead. Brad Stevens called for a timeout, and after that timeout, the Trail Blazers used their foul to give with exactly four seconds left in the game.

The Celts then needed to run a backup play, which Stevens later revealed they had planned with the expectation that Portland would use its foul to give. The play called for an inbound pass to Horford, followed by the big man going to work.

Horford caught the inbound pass just above the right elbow and quickly began backing down his defender, Al-Farouq Aminu. Horford took two dribbles as he gained about five feet of ground, then spun back over his right shoulder and released the fadeaway jumper from the right elbow.

Bang!

The Celtics stormed the court and mobbed Horford as the crew celebrated yet another comeback win – this one from 16 points down, and without the services of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Shane Larkin.

What a shot, and what a way for New England to begin its Super Bowl Sunday.

Key Player

Al Horford doesn’t mind playing at noon. Heck, it looked as if he preferred it.

Horford, who will play in his fifth All-Star game two weeks from today, was Boston’s best player Sunday afternoon and he’s the reason why the team won its fourth straight game. He led the Celtics in all three major statistical categories, as he totaled 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. This was all done while he shot an efficient 8-for-12 from the field, which included the game-winning shot at the buzzer that was described in the Key Moment section.

The Celtics have needed players to step up in the absence of Kyrie Irving, who missed his third straight game Sunday afternoon. Terry Rozier had been the man for the past two games, but Sunday was all about the big man.

Horford #FTW!

Box Score Nuggets

  • Al Horford's 22 points tied for the game high and he also led the game in rebounds with 10.
  • Terry Rozier's plus-seven was the best plus/minus rating in the game.
  • C.J. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 22 points.
  • Damian Lillard scored 21 points but shot a woeful 6-for-19 from the field.
  • Lillard dished out a game-high nine assists.
  • The Celtics trailed by as many as 16 points.
  • Boston scored only 22 points in the paint during the game.
  • The two teams combined to score only eight fast break points, five by Portland and three by Boston.
  • Three Blazers (Jusuf Nurkic, Ed Davis and Zach Collins) each blocked two shots.
  • Horford and Aron Baynes also blocked two shots for the C's.
  • Portland committed only eight turnovers, while the Celtics committed only 11.
  • Lillard attempted and made game highs from the free-throw line with his 7-for-8 effort.
  • Jaylen Brown stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.
  • Jayson Tatum scored 17 points and dished out a career-high five assists.

Quote of the Night

We have a football game to watch.

Brad Stevens, with a Patriots "Not Done" winter hat on, sits next to an Eagles-clad Marcus Morris and tells the media why his postgame press conference will be brief

Key Player