Marcus Smart scoops home a layup against Portland

Keys to the Game: Celtics 126, Trail Blazers 112

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Key Moment

Things got a bit dicier than the Celtics would have hoped Friday night after they pulled ahead by as many as 21 points during the third quarter of their matchup with the Blazers. As they do far more often than not, though, Boston responded to adversity and closed the door on Portland’s comeback attempt.

That attempt began with a 12-4 run by Portland that was capped by Damian Lillard’s two free throws at the 2:39 mark of the fourth quarter. Those freebies pulled the Blazers to within eight points.

Boston then leaned on its defense to end the suspense.

Coming out of an unsuccessful coach’s challenge by the C’s, Boston – and in particular, Marcus Smart – put the clamps on Lillard to seal the game. First, Smart poked the ball free from Lillard when the Blazers had a chance to cut the lead down to either six or five. Al Horford corralled the loose ball and kicked it ahead to Jaylen Brown for an uncontested dunk to make it a 10-point game.

Just 17 seconds later, Smart affected Lillard enough on a deep 3-point attempt from straight away to force a miss that gave Boston possession and a chance to expand its lead. The Celtics did just that, as Horford splashed home a 3-pointer off a dish from Brown to make it 118-105 with 93 seconds left on the clock.

Following that play, Horford signaled to the Portland crowd with his hands and arms as if to say, ‘It’s over.” And it certainly was. The C’s didn’t allow their lead to drop below 10 the rest of the way before completing a 126-112 victory.

Key Player

Jayson Tatum’s slumps don’t last long, do they?

After scoring just 22 points during each of his previous two games, Tatum returned to his norms Friday night by dropping 34 on the Trail Blazers in Portland. He was aggressive throughout the contest, which led to a 15-point opening quarter and a 15-point second half. Tatum lived at the free-throw line, where he connected on 16 of his 18 attempts.

He just continues to pile up rebounding numbers as well. Tatum led the team with 12 boards, marking the 36thtime this season that he’s led the team in the category. Combined with his point total, it also marked his team-best 30th double-double of the season.

Tatum rounded out his box score with four assists and three steals during 36-plus minutes of action.

Box Score Nuggets

  • None of the 10 Celtics who appeared in the game finished with a negative plus/minus rating.
  • Luke Kornet led all reserves with 11 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, dished out and assist and blocked a shot during 18 minutes of action.
  • Damian Lillard led the game with 41 points.
  • Jayson Tatum led Boston with 34 points despite making only eight field goals.
  • Tatum made 16 free throws on 18 attempts.
  • Tatum led the game in rebounds with 12.
  • Al Horford led the game in assists with 10, marking the eighth time in his regular-season career that he's reached double-digit assists.
  • Jaylen Brown stuffed the stat sheet with 27 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
  • Marcus Smart led the game with four steals and also compiled 15 points, and six assists.
  • Boston grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
  • Blake Griffin grabbed six of those offensive rebounds in 13-plus minutes of action.

Quote of the Night

"I knew as soon as he caught it, the way that he caught it and shot it, I already knew it was going in."

- Marcus Smart on Al Horford's clutch 3-pointer during the final minutes