Celtics complete West Coast trip with loss to Trail Blazers
|01.12.14 at 12:18 am ET|
The Celtics‘ worst-case scenario for their West Coast trip came to fruition on Saturday night: five games, five losses.
Boston finished the trip with a 112-104 loss to the Trail Blazers in Portland. The C’s losing streak has been extended to eight games, the longest losing streak since 2007 when they dropped 18 straight in the dreadful 24-58 campaign that precipitated the formation of the Big Three.
LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland’s explosive, league-leading offense with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Five other Trail Blazers scored between 10 and 18 points with Wesley Matthews topping that group (18 points).
Avery Bradley scored 25 points in the losing cause. Jeff Green (16 points), Jared Sullinger (14 points, 10 rebounds), Jordan Crawford (13 points), Jerryd Bayless (12 points) and Kris Humphries (10 points) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
Poor third: While Boston, for the most part, carried its torrid shooting pace from the first half (61.9 percent) into the third quarter, and avoided turnovers, the team failed in other areas that led to Portland reclaiming a four-point lead. Portland out-rebounded the Celtics in the third frame 14-9. Additionally, Portland got to the line at will and converted every opportunity, finishing 10-for-10 in the quarter.
Three D: The Celtics had the unenviable task of slowing the Trail Blazers’ NBA-best 3-point attack. Portland again used the long ball as a major weapon, as it canned 10 3-pointers, and accomplished this in an efficient fashion: 47.6 percent shooting. The triples made equaled the team’s season average, while the percentage exceeded Portland’s season average, who lead the league in both long-range categories. Five different Trail Blazers connected on a trey with Mo Williams registering a team-high three.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
Scorching start: The Celtics showed no sign of a hangover from their tough loss the previous night, as Boston posted 32 first-quarter points on 70 percent shooting for a five-point lead. Every starter scored, and none missed more than one shot, with Bradley leading the way (13 points, 6-for-7 shooting). The C’s hot start came as a noteworthy change from a recent run of poor first-quarter shooting. In the last three first quarters, Boston has averaged shooting 36.5 percent from the field.
Paint presence: Portland entered the game ranked last in the NBA in points in the paint allowed and the Celtics took advantage. Boston exposed the Trail Blazers’ weak interior defense with 46 points in the paint. Boston received contributions from both the front court and the back court in achieving the success inside. Three guards and three forwards reached double digits.
Bayless breakout: The newly acquired Celtic enjoyed his best game in his short career in Boston. Bayless tallied 12 points — 10 in the first half — for his second double digit game with the C’s. But for the first time, he scored his points efficiently. Bayless entered the game shooting 7-for-26 in his first three games. But against Portland, Bayless shot 6-for-10 from the field and added six assists.
Starting guard play: The best way to describe the play of Boston guards Crawford and Bradley would be finicky. One night, the pair can’t hit the broad side of the barn — like on Friday when they combined for a rancid 6-for-24 shooting performance. But the next night, the duo nearly led the Celtics to a victory. Bradley poured in 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting, while Crawford chipped in 13 points and six assists.