The Blazers were able to outlast the Celtics Thursday night 116-109 in Portland. Boston was able to keep C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard at bay, but Al-Farouq Aminu and the rest of the Blazers supporting cast proved to be too much for the Celtics. Aminu was the game's high scorer with 28 points. Isaiah Thomas had an uncharacteristic off-shooting night, shooting 6-21 from the field on his way to 22 points to lead the Celtics.
It was a game of runs between two teams with a lot to play for in terms of playoff positioning. Jae Crowder hit a big three down the stretch to put the Celts up one with a minute to go in his return, but the Blazers came up big down the stretch to take home the win
-The Celtics got off to a quick start energized by Crowder's return, whose hands on defense certainly didn't get any slower with his time off. So great to see him back.
-The Celtics got a little sloppy and found themselves down 6 after their quick start, despite the pleasant surprise of a long two and a three from Amir Johnson. We'll take it!
-The return of Crowder also meant the return of the Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, Kelly Olynyk bench trio. Olynyk drilled a couple threes to bring the Celts back in the lead after Portland had surged ahead.
-The Celtics had five turnovers after quarter one but still made it out of the first 12 minutes with a lead.
Celtics Lead 31-30 After One
-The Celtics did themselves no favors at the line in the second quarter with Thomas, Olynyk and Crowder all missing 2 at the charity stripe.
-The starters returned in the second quarter and pushed the lead, bringing the Celts ahead by 11 in the middle of the quarter.
-CSN showed highlights of the Celtics win in Portland last January. If you don't remember, Sully dove on the floor and kicked it out to Turner for a three with 1 second left. What a win that was.
-Smart provided the highlight of the first half with a fallaway, left-handed tip off an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left on the shot clock.
-Olynyk had a great first stint but didn't get back in until 1 minute left in the half. Would have liked to see more of Kelly in that half after he hit a couple threes early.
-In 16 first half minutes, Crowder was a +10 and had 8 points and 5 rebounds. Safe to say it is very nice to have him back on the floor.
Celtics Lead 58-54 At Half
-Celtics starters played well again to start the second half, pushing the lead back to 12.
-Is it just me or does Avery Bradley commit a violation on every free throw he takes?
-Aminu, whose season high for points before tonight was 20, was 7-9 from the field for 18 points five minutes into the 3rd quarter.
-Amir Johnson's activity level has been great lately, constantly fighting to get the Celtics extra possessions.
-The Celts held a 10-point lead with 3 minutes left in the 3rd, but that evaporated quickly. It took the Blazers only a minute and a half to score 10 straight and tie the game.
-The Celtics responded with a great play to get Smart a post up on Lillard to put the Celts up 2 after three quarters.
Celtics Lead 83-81 After Three
-The Aminu onslaught kept coming and Gerald Henderson got in the act as well, pushing the Blazers lead to 6 at 93-87 with 9:29 left in the game.
-The Celtics had done a great job on Lillard and McCollum, but it was the Blazers supporting cast that did most of the damage. Blazers used a 31-8 run to go from down 81-71 to up 102-89.
-The Celts responded with an 8-0 run of their own to get within 5 at 102-97 behind increased intensity on defense. The Blazers guards looked terrified to bring the ball up the floor against Avery.
-Crowder just consistently comes up with the big plays. He came up with an o-board after a Thomas free throw miss, and then found Isaiah for a triple to cut the lead back to 2 at 104-102 with 3:20 left.
-Jae Crowder is back! He hit a huge three to put the Celts back up 109-108 with 1:08 to go.
-Really tough call on Avery to send Lillard to the line with the Blazers up 3 with 29 seconds remaining. Lillard sank both to put the Blazers up 5 and ice the game.