NBA: Celtics lead early, hold off Trail Blazers
Jayson Tatum recorded 34 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 126-112 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Jaylen Brown added 27 points for Boston, which trails the first-place Milwaukee Bucks by 1 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference. Marcus Smart had 15 points, six assists and four steals, Derrick White added 13 points and Al Horford had 12 points and 10 assists as the Celtics (49-22) won for the fourth time in five games.
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Damian Lillard scored 25 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t prevent the Trail Blazers (31-39) from dropping their fifth consecutive contest and 10th in the past 13 games. Portland is in 13th place in the Western Conference and three games behind the final play-in spot.
Anfernee Simons scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle had 12, Trendon Watford had a solid all-around game with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals and Cam Reddish scored 10 points for the Trail Blazers.
Portland played without Jerami Grant (quadriceps) for the second straight game, while Boston was missing Robert Williams III (hamstring) for the seventh consecutive contest.
The Celtics shot 47.1 percent from the field and made 15 of 42 from 3-point range. Luke Kornet added 11 points off the bench.
The Trail Blazers made 48.1 percent of their shots, including 14 of 38 from behind the arc. Lillard made six treys.
Portland made a spirited fourth-quarter dash behind Lillard’s stellar period.
He scored six straight at one stretch as the Trail Blazers crept within 106-93 with 5:21 left. Lillard later drained a 3-pointer as Portland moved within single digits at 111-103 with 3:11 remaining.
A short time later, Brown slammed home a dunk and Horford swished a trey to give Boston a 13-point lead en route to finishing off the victory.
The Celtics held a 15-point halftime lead and increased the advantage to 74-55 on Tatum’s 3-pointer with 7:54 left in the third quarter.
Later in the period, Portland used an 8-1 run to move within 80-68 on Lillard’s 3-pointer with 3:54 remaining. Boston answered with nine consecutive points, capped by Smart’s layup, to boost the lead to 21 before the Celtics took an 89-70 lead into the final stanza.
Tatum scored 19 points in the first half as Boston took a 63-48 lead into the break. Tatum had 15 points in the first quarter, which ended with Boston leading 32-24.
–Field Level Media
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