Posted on February 4, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Boston Celtics know that most of their hometown fans would be preoccupied with another game on Sunday. From some of the comments and the attire worn by some after Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, it was clear they were thinking about this ‘other’ game, too.
But that didn’t stop them from putting on a heck of a show for fans—well, at least at the end of the game.
Things certainly didn’t get off to a good start for the Celtics. They struggled to hit shots during the opening quarter (26.9 percent from the floor) and fell behind early, 26-19. The second quarter wasn’t any better as the Trail Blazers outscored the Celtics 28-19 in the quarter to take a 54-38 lead into halftime.
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But then the third quarter started, and everything changed.
Boston started the second half with a 22-7 run to get within one-point, 61-60, with 5:03 left in the third. However, when the fourth quarter started, Portland still held a four-point lead, 73-69. With less than six minutes to go, the Trail Blazers held onto a six-point advantage, 85-79. But then Boston went on an 11-0 run, and took a five-point lead, 90-85, with 2:02 to go.
The game was far from over, though.
Damian Lillard tied the game up at 95-95 with seven seconds to go. But he was also fouled and made his free throw to give Portland a 96-95 lead. But with seven seconds left, the Celtics could still get one shot off— and they did.
Al Horford hit a 20-footer at the buzzer to give the Celtics the win, 97-96. After the game he talked about the shot (ESPN):
“He (Stevens) had called a play for Jaylen (Brown), but they were ready for it, so he kept yelling keep the ball, keep the ball,” Horford said. “It’s a shot I work on a lot, and it felt good when it left my hands.”
C.J. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 22 points followed by Lillard with 21. After the game McCollum gave credit where he felt it was due (ESPN):
“They executed well down the stretch, made some tough shots,” McCollum said. “Credit them for battling back and then down the stretch they seemed to match every basket.”
Horford led the way for the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving for the third consecutive game, with 22 points. Jayson Tatum chipped in 17 and Jaylen Brown had 16.
Portland will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when they face the Pistons in Detroit Monday night. Boston will get an extra day off but will face a much tougher opponent on Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors.
Brad Stevens made it clear he was backing the Patriots in the Super Bowl when he attended the post-game media session looking like a younger version of Bill Belichick (ESPN):
“Football game to watch,” Stevens said when asked about his postgame attire. “And [Morris and I] have had a lot of back-and-forth discussions, so I thought I’d bring Marcus along. It helps that Al made the last shot; it helps it feel better.”
When asked about the final play he said he, “Wanted it to end the game so we could go watch the Super Bowl.”