Celtics snare a win from Portland

Boston wins with a last-second shot, 90-89, as Batum exits with injury
Jan. 22, 2015
Nicolas Batum left Thursday's game with an apparent injury.
Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

PORTLAND - Having learned All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge would be out for six to eight weeks earlier in the day, the Portland Trail Blazers nearly pulled off a hearty victory Thursday night. Instead, it was a rancorous defeat.

With just 1.9 seconds left and trailing the Portland Trail Blazers 89-87, Boston’s Evan Turner hit a 3-point shot that pushed the Celtics to a 90-89 victory at the Moda Center.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Celtics, and snapped a 24-game road losing streak against teams from the Western Conference. It was the team’s first win over the Blazers in three seasons.

Boston had four starters in double figures paced by Avery Bradley with 18 points. Jared Sullinger added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Damian Lillard had 21 points and seven assists to lead Portland, which has lost five of its last six as the team struggles with injuries to their front line. Already without Aldridge and starting center Robin Lopez, starting forward Nicolas Batum left the game with a wrist injury that has been nagging him.

“Everybody knows what Nic can bring and what LA brings, so we have to figure out diffident ways of scoring and sometimes different ways of playing,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “The differences are fairly obvious.”

Lillard’s 3-pointer put Portland up 87-81 with 4:44 left, but the Celtics answered, pulling within 87-85 on Bradley’s pull-up jumper before Sullinger’s put-back layup tied it.

Wesley Matthews missed one of two free throws to give the Blazers the edge, and a turnover gave Portland the ball on the other end. But the Blazers struggled to score and settled for Thomas Robinson’s free throw to lead 89-87 with 26.6 seconds left.

Boston missed a shot, but snared the rebound, and on the ensuing inbounds play, nearly had the ball stolen from Sullinger. But, scrambling on the floor, Sullinger flipped the ball to Turner for the go-ahead 3-pointer, and Lillard couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.

Most fans at the game were looking for a call of jump ball as Sullinger was tearing the ball from a pile of layers and passing to a wide open Turner.

The Blazers were hit before the game with the news that Aldridge had torn a ligament in his left thumb and would need surgery. The 6-foot-11 power forward is expected to miss from six to eight weeks.

Aldridge was injured in Monday’s 98-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings. He leads Portland with averages of 23.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.18 blocks per game.

“It’s tough,” Aldridge told reporters in Portland’s locker room before the game. “I definitely didn’t want to have anything like this going on right now.”

The injury is blow to the Blazers, who were already without Lopez because of a fractured right hand and center Joel Freeland with a right shoulder strain.

The Celtics shook up their lineup, starting Brandon Bass instead of Tyler Zeller. Coach Brad Stevens said before the game he wanted to see Bass and Sullinger play together.

“We’re not accomplished enough to say we have to have on starting lineup right now,” Stevens said pregame.

Matthews said of the loss, “We blew it. We had possessions, we had chances, we had opportunities.”