BOSTON – A 115-93 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night was exactly what the Boston Celtics needed to regain positive momentum before heading out of town for a six-game road trip.
The C’s weren’t happy with how the past week shaped up after suffering double-digit comeback defeats in each of their previous three games against the Nets, Knicks, and Cavaliers, respectively. So they took their frustration out on the Blazers with a well-rounded performance from top to bottom.
Six different Celtics scored in double figures, including all five starters before the midway point of the third quarter.
Jayson Tatum led the way with 30 points in just over 30 minutes of action, Derrick White dropped in 21 points to go along with a team-high seven assists, and Al Horford maintained his hot stretch with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Jaylen Brown logged 11 points in 25 minutes, getting some much-needed rest after playing 43-plus minutes in each of his previous three outings. Marcus Smart added 10 points, and Sam Hauser chipped in with 11 points off the bench.
Brown was thrilled with the team’s balance, noting after the game, “As we are focusing on playing the right way, we gotta continue to make an emphasis on not getting caught up in our stats and getting caught up in our own individual way of thinking. At this time of the year, it's about us. So we need to just display that from the top to the bottom."
Boston also displayed an emphasis on closing out quarters strong and not letting the Blazers get back into the game, as it had done against its previous three opponents. Portland never got closer than 13 points from the C’s during the second half, which allowed for some early Gino Time on the TD Garden Jumbotron.
“That’s what we needed,” said Horford, who moved into ninth place on the Celtics’ all-time 3-point makes list during a 3-for-5 effort from deep. “It's what we've been talking about. Coach has been on us about finishing the quarters a little bit better, and Jayson took it and executed, scored some big baskets for us.”
The Celtics also prevented big baskets on the other end. Defensively, it was their second-best effort of the season behind their 103-92 win over Brooklyn on Dec. 4. Furthermore, it was the fewest points they had allowed at TD Garden since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami last May, and it was the fewest points they had allowed in a regular-season home game in more than a year (Jan. 31, 2022 vs. Miami).
It was also Boston’s first 20-point victory in more than a month, which was just the type of confidence-building win it needed before heading out on the road for two weeks, beginning Saturday night in Atlanta.
“I guess you could say it’s a breath of fresh air,” Horford said. “I don’t like to lose. But it was important before hitting the road. We had a couple of losses here at home in a couple of games that I felt like we controlled. So I’m just happy with our group. Despite everything, we got the win, we held onto the lead which was important, and now we get to go on the road and continue to build on that.”