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Boston Celtics earn elusive easy win, blow out Portland Trail Blazers, 115-93

The Celtics handled the Trail Blazers and earned a rare opportunity to rest their starters in the fourth quarter

Portland Trail Blazers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics haven’t had very much fun in the Eastern Conference lately, so this evening, they hoped to find some better fortune against the West. Losers of four of their last five games — all against East playoff contenders — they squared off with the struggling Portland Trail Blazers looking to reverse their fortunes. Mercifully, the Celtics found the comfortable win they’ve dearly needed, quickly putting the Blazers behind by double-digits and keeping them there the rest of the night.

Jayson Tatum shrugged off a recent slump with an efficient 30 points (11-of-17 shooting, 6-of-10 from three). Behind him was a balanced offensive attack that saw five other Celtics score in double-figures. Damian Lillard had a customarily excellent night, scoring 27 points, but unlike Tatum’s, his supporting cast brought nothing to the table, and the Blazers fell far short.

Al Horford’s recent hot streak continued into the early minutes of this game. Having recorded two of his four 20+ point outings on the season in the past week, he kicked off tonight’s game with 10 in the first quarter, including two made threes. He helped set the tone for what was a high-scoring affair from the jump, with each team displaying some potent shot-making. On the Blazers end, it was — unsurprisingly — Lillard who led the dance, scoring 11 in the first. The Celtics ended the quarter with a seven-point lead, 35-28.

In the second quarter, the offensive fireworks were silenced — for one team at least. The Blazers went scoreless for nearly five minutes of game time early in the quarter, allowing the Celtics to rattle off a 14-3 run to take command of the proceedings. The continued efforts of Lillard (19 first-half points) kept things from getting too far out of hand, but the balanced attack of the Celtics had the Blazers off-balance. They entered the halftime break with a 60-45 lead.

The second half began with yet another Celtics run. They jumped out on a 7-2 run, poking holes against a curious zone defense from Chauncey Billups and the Blazers in the process. The lead pushed as high as 20 points, and despite the Blazers finding some more scoring punch as the quarter wore on, they made no inroads towards clawing back into the game. Tatum hit a pair of threes as the clock ticked down, and the Celtics entered the final quarter with a 22-point lead, 94-72.

The Celtics kicked off the fourth quarter with another quick run — a more modest 5-0 this time — and that just about put this game on ice. Joe Mazzulla took advantage of a rare opportunity to buy his rotation some rest, and the Celtics emptied the bench midway through the quarter to coast their way to the finish line.

Next up, the Celtics will travel to Atlanta for an Eastern Conference showdown with the Hawks, this Saturday at 7:30 PM on NBC Sports Boston.

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