Depleted at the start of their four-game road trip, and with the latest update on superstar Kyrie Irving sounding anything but promising in regards to an immediate return, the Celtics undoubtedly looked as if they were walking into a Rip City buzzsaw.
And up by a game-high 12 points in the third quarter in a building that’s come with wins in 18 of their last 20 games, the Blazers had the Celtics just plain bullied into a corner.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, nobody thought to put a body on Terry Rozier or Marcus Morris in said corner, which allowed the Celtics to complete another fourth-quarter comeback, this time by a 105-100 final Friday night at the Moda Center.
Exchanging blows and leads in the fourth quarter, it was a pretty Marcus Morris three-pointer that put the Celtics up by five points with less than a minute left in the game. But the Blazers came right back and whittled the Boston down to three.
When Jayson Tatum put the Celtics back up by five on the C’s next position, the Blazers again came down and answered, this time with a C.J. McCollum finger roll layup.
But with time on their side, the Celtics bled the clock.
Holding the Blazers in a miserable spot until 6.9 seconds remained in the game, a Tatum miss was salvaged by a clutch Al Horford rebound where he beat Ed Davis for a loose ball and subsequent kickout to Rozier for some game-icing free throw makes.
Turning it on in the final frame, with 38 fourth-quarter points, this was a game won largely by The Green’s 14-6 run in the final 3:20 of regulation.
And in the continued absence of Irving, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and (obviously) Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are a team in need of heroes. Emphasis on heroes, too, especially when going against the likes of a Dame Lillard and McCollum (combining for 50 points) in Portland, or a Russell Westbrook-Paul George like the one they bested this past Wednesday.
Friday’s game brought just that; Morris finished with 30 points (including an impressive 5-for-6 mark from behind the arc), a game-best plus-14 rating came from Shane Larkin in a 34-minute night for the backup point guard, and the aforementioned win-sealing, late-game board from Horford was huge, to say the least. And the 20-year-old Tatum, swallowed whole by struggles in the first three quarters, had 10 of his 13 points on the night come in the fourth quarter.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens, forced to reach back into his deep playbook given the Celtics’ obvious personnel losses, also coached a near-perfect second half.
The C’s will look to make it three straight wins Sunday against the Kings in Sacramento.
Full article @ Celtics 105, Blazers 100: C’s pull off another unlikely 4th quarter comeback
Source: GreenStreet Blog