BOSTON — It was the return of the Kid ET.
One of the most venerable and comical athletes in recent memory in the Hub, Turner was an unstoppable golden quote machine and a second unit savior last year. But in an early evening matchup against the Celtics, he was a small part of a victorious 127-123 overtime effort for the Portland Trail Blazers against the team that catalyzed his career renaissance.
Turner had a rough first half, putting up a dunkin donut in the scoring column. He showed some of his flair for dramatic playmaking in the paint and seemed to be the only one who has the scouting report down on how to guard Isaiah Thomas. While being a foot taller with good footspeed helps, Turner shaded Thomas to his right, forcing IT to go to his off hand. It worked for a few stops, but Thomas figured out how to adjust per usual and went on to score 17 in the first half.
“He was really good,” coach Brad Stevens said of Turner. “He did a really good job here guarding guys. Isaiah still had a good game, all things considered.
“Evan did a good job on [Thomas] and he still ended up scoring 41 points on 50-percent shooting.”
CJ McCollum had an even better first half, scoring 26 points with no turnovers in 21 minutes. It was CJ’s 10th 30-point game of the season, joining IT as one of the 11 players in the league to hit that mark. McCollum threw daggers all night long, culminating with a step back with 46 seconds left in the game to give the Blazers a 11-108 lead.
The Celtics responded quickly, with IT running a side pick-and-roll out of a timeout. He had Turner on him, but used a few moves to get Turner to try to ice a screen and open his hips right. That gave Thomas his favored left hand lane and he blew Evan away for a nice layup.
When the Celtics got a stop on the other end, Terry Rozier chased down an errant rebound and tipped it out of bounds. But Evan Turner’s fingers scraped the ball, giving the Celtics 25.6 seconds to milk the clock and take the lead. Isaiah Thomas then rattled out a step back jumper over McCollum. But when Marcus Smart swiped the rebound from Damian Lillard and hit a layup to take the lead, he was hit with a tough reaching foul that erased the bucket.
The Celtics got the ball back with 10.8 seconds, needing a three to send it to overtime. Naturally, the call went to Terry Rozier. He went Brazy, hitting a 27-footer off a screen to tie it with 8.4 seconds left and send it to overtime. Rozier had 15 points on 3-for-6 shooting from deep, one point short of his career-high.
Overtime had a messy start, but then Marcus Smart went Teen Wolf on the Blazers. It started when he slipped pressing Lillard by the halfcourt line, which set in motion a confused pick-and-roll to Mason Plumlee. Smart got up, smothered Lillard’s shot attempt 35-feet out and still chased down the rebound. Smart then got a vital offensive rebound on the next play to set up an Isaiah Thomas three for a 118-117 lead.
But after a pair of Al-Farouq Aminu free throws, Smart overshot a lob to Al Horford and gave the Blazers a chance to ice the game. Damian Lillard took that opportunity, drawing a three-point play to carve open a 122-118 lead. IT drew a foul on a narrowly missed finger roll to bring the Celtics back within two with 44.8 seconds remaining.
Horford doubled onto McCollum on the pick-and-roll freeing up Plumlee to crash the lane. Amir Johnson made a perfect rotation to smother Plumlee, but he still put home a tough jump hook.
The Blazers blewup the Thomas drive on the other end and when he managed to kick out to Horford, forced a tough running layup that clanked to Plumlee. When Plumlee missed the second free throw, Thomas ran down court and hit a crucial three to cross the 40-point mark and make it a two-point game. But when McCollum managed to outrun the Celtics’ foulers and outlet to Lillard, just 1.9 seconds remained. Lillard hit both free throws, finishing a three-hour thriller.
It was a close contest, remaining within a two-possession game after the 10 minute mark of the third quarter. The Celtics took a nine point lead into the half. But the Blazers responded to an early Marcus Smart jumper by rolling off an 11-0 run to tie it up in the early third.
Turner had 12 points in the second half and Lillard had 16, picking up the load for McCollum.