The Celtics entered Sunday’s game riding high off their epic overtime victory against the San Antonio Spurs, but the Trail Blazers stopped them dead in their tracks.
Boston fell 129-119 to Portland at TD Garden despite a strong effort from the bench, which hit all but five of its 18 attempted shots Sunday night.
Jayson Tatum and CJ McCollum led all scorers with 33 points apiece.
The Celtics slipped to 34-31 while the Blazers climbed to 36-28.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Evan Fournier
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
EARLY BOUNCE BACK
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Celtics did not start things off on the right foot.
This time, though, they managed to turn things around faster than usual.
The Blazers quickly opened up a nine-point lead behind solid starts from Damian Lillard (11 points, two rebounds, three assists) and CJ McCollum (seven points, two rebounds).
Boston pushed back rather quickly and erased Portland’s lead late in the quarter. Brown and Evan Fournier helped the Celtics find their rhythm and finished the frame with a combined 15 points and eight rebounds.
Tatum, on the other hand, turned on the jets late in the first and collected eight points on 3-of-5 shooting (60%).
The Celtics’ lead wouldn’t last the entire quarter, though. McCollum nabbed a triple at the buzzer to put the Blazers up 34-32 after one.
Things between Boston and Portland stayed tight in the second quarter.
Tatum continued to light up the scoreboard and finished the half with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting (61.5%). He hit four of his five 3-point attempts in the first half, including this doozy early in the second:
McCollum (18 points, three rebounds, two assists) and Lillard (16 point, three rebounds, six assists) continued to lead the charge for Portland. Enes Kanter, meanwhile, was a non-factor with just one point and two rebounds in the first half.
There wasn’t much daylight between these two teams in the second. The Blazers shot 54.3% from the field in the first half, while the Celtics were close behind at 52.1% accuracy.
The game entered halftime at 71-all.
BOSTON LOSES SOME STEAM
The Blazers were just a bit better than the Celtics in the third. Lillard, McCollum and Powell all eclipsed the 20-point mark as Portland rebuilt its lead.
Boston’s bench gave the Celtics a continued boost, going 11-for-13 (84.6%) through the first three frames. Payton Pritchard (13 points, four rebounds) and Aaron Nesmith (11 points, three rebounds) helped the C’s maintain their rhythm, though Nesmith did rack up four personal fouls.
Robert Williams, meanwhile, gave Boston a boost on both ends of the court with four points, four rebounds (all defensive) and three assists.
Turnovers weren’t the Celtics’ friend in the third, though. Boston racked up seven giveaways in the quarter, allowing Portland to maintain their small lead entering the fourth.
UNFORTUNATE SERIES OF EVENTS
The Blazers kept the Celtics at bay through most of the final frame.
There still was plenty of fight left in Boston, though. Fournier, for one, ended the night with 8-of-10 completed shots (80%) for 21 points. He had five rebounds and three assists, as well.
Nesmith (16 points, four rebounds) kept up his success, too. He remained strong off the bench and now has three straight games with at least 15 points, according to Forbes’ Chris Grenham.
Smart was tossed with 1:56 left in the game after receiving a technical foul during a collision with Jusuf Nurkic. The ejection was sparked by Smart tapping Nurkic in the groin.
Tatum and Brown were next down the tunnel after colliding at the knee with 40 seconds to play. Both players appeared in pain as they left the game.
Try as they might, Boston just couldn’t close the gap. The Blazers wound up topping the C’s 129-119 on 51.8% shooting Sunday night. (The Celtics finished the game at 48.3% shooting.)
PLAY OF THE GAME
Someone looked solid Sunday.
Boston will have two days off before taking on the Orlando Magic on Wednesday at Amway Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. ET.
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