Matthews helps Portland sink Celtics

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN
Posted Feb. 24, 2013, at 11:44 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Victory tasted particularly sweet to Nicolas Batum on Sunday night.

“I can’t remember when we got our last win,” the small forward said after Portland’s 92-86 triumph over the Boston Celtics at the Rose Garden. “It was after the Super Bowl. Seemed like two years ago.”

It actually was Feb. 4, a 100-98 win over Minnesota. Sunday’s victory snapped a season-high, seven-game losing streak for Portland (26-30), which is still clinging to its playoff hopes.

Wesley Matthews scored 24 points — including a decisive 3-pointer with 53.6 seconds left — to lift Portland to victory. All five starters scored in double figures for the Trail Blazers. Batum had 18 points, LaMarcus Aldridge 16, Damian Lillard 12 and J.J. Hickson with 11. Hickson added 11 rebounds.

Paul Pierce totaled 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Celtics, and Kevin Garnett added 20 points and nine rebounds. Boston (29-27) fell to 1-3 on a five-game road trip that concludes Monday night in Utah.

The Celtics shot only 42.4 percent from the field, including 15.4 percent (2-for-13) from 3-point range.

“We played great team defense,” said Hickson, who earned his 30th double-double of the season. “We were flying around out there. When we play like that, we’re tough to beat.”

Portland led 52-44 early in the third quarter before Boston used an 11-2 run to go on top 55-54. The Blazers took a 71-67 advantage into the final period.

Aldridge’s 17-footer gave Portland an 82-74 lead with 5:48 to play. The Blazers were still in front 86-82 with three minutes left, but Boston tied the game at 86 on Garnett’s driving layup.

Lillard converted a three-point play to give Portland an 89-86 edge with 1:32 remaining. Matthews followed with the clinching 3-pointer.

“We didn’t finish any quarter well,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Every quarter, (the Blazers) made a run. It was a getable game, but give them credit. They made some big shots.”

Boston probably felt fortunate to trail only 49-42 at the half. The Celtics shot only 37.8 percent while the Blazers fired at a 51.4 percent clip through intermission. Portland hurt its cause, though, with 10 first-half turnovers.

Matthews scored 15 points in the first half, sinking five of six shots from the field, including two of three from 3-point range. Pierce had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists at the break.

Portland wound up making just 44.3 percent of its shots for the night, slightly better than Boston’s success rate. Matthews made eight of 11 shots, including five of eight from 3-point range.

The Blazers finished with a 47-36 rebounding edge, with rookie Victor Claver grabbing a season-high 10 boards to go with four points and two steals in 20 minutes off the bench. Portland also had a 16-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

NOTES: Portland snapped a six-game losing streak against Boston, beating the Celtics for the first time since December 2008. … Sunday marked the Portland debut of Eric Maynor, acquired Thursday in a deal with Oklahoma City. Maynor, who scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting and had three assists in 15 minutes, is backing up Lillard at the point. … Jordan Crawford, recently acquired by Boston in a trade with Washington, was held scoreless in 12 minutes off the bench. He scored 19 points in 27 minutes in the Wizards’ 84-82 win over Portland on Nov. 28. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard had 13 points — including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer — in 22 reserve minutes in the Wizards’ 98-95 victory at the Rose Garden on Jan. 21. “He can score,” Rivers said before the game. “That’s what we want from him. But we’re going to ask for more, once he gets comfortable with our team. He has had one game with us, zero practices and one shootaround. It’s not like we’re expecting a lot out of him right now, but we will as the year goes along.” … Boston limited Lillard to 5-for-16 shooting. Lillard added six rebounds and six assists.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/24/sports/matthews-helps-portland-sink-celtics/ printed on September 22, 2014