Blazers fall behind early, then fall hard to Celtics
PORTLAND — That newly reenergized Trail Blazers team given new life by the addition of Marcus Camby?
Almost nowhere to be found Friday night at the Rose Garden.
In its place, an out of synch, sleepwalking squad who looked nothing like a franchise with sincere playoff hopes.
The Blazers fell to the Boston Celtics, 96-76, before a sold-out crowd of 20,618.
It was Portland’s largest margin of defeat and lowest point total of the season.
“We never really established that we could guard them,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
Portland played loose, messy ball from that start. And a Blazers team fitting in Camby on the fly while possibly being held back by a hamstring-troubled Brandon Roy proved that it still has serious work to do as the games become important and scoreboard watching becomes in vogue.
The problem: Portland neither has a lot of time nor a safety net.
The Blazers hold the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff chase, two games ahead of Houston and New Orleans.
“It does hurt,” McMillan said.
Andre Miller scored 16 points to lead the Blazers (32-25), while LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Roy was held to nine points on 3-of-8 shooting in 34 minutes.
Camby recorded two points, seven rebounds and three blocks in his Portland debut.
“Tonight was pretty much like having two new guys in the lineup with Marcus and bringing Brandon back,” McMillan said.
Portland recorded a franchise-low tying seven assists and committed 18 turnovers while shooting a season-low 33.8 percent (22 of 65) from the field.
In contrast, Boston dished out 27 assists and shot 53.4 percent (39 of 73) from the floor.
“They were definitely the more aggressive team,” Roy said.
Ray Allen topped the Celtics (35-18) with a game-high 21 points. Allen burned the Blazers all game, using screens to find space and then sinking shots with his trademark touch. He hit 3 of his 7 3-point attempts.
A Blazers defense that was slow to rotate and slower to cover up its mistakes was burned easily and often in the first quarter. Boston shot 72 percent (16 of 22) from the field during the period, emerging with a 32-25 advantage.
Portland’s defensive woes then carried over to offense. The Blazers failed to record a field goal during the first 6 minutes, 43 seconds of the second quarter, falling behind 50-34 in the process.
“We’ve got to do a much better job of coming out and getting off to better starts, especially at home,” Roy said.
Jerryd Bayless (14 points) gave the Blazers a lift in the third period. But the closest Portland could climb was within nine early in the fourth quarter.
“We lost so, whatever,” Bayless said. “We’ve just got to get over this game and get ready for the next one.”
The Blazers recorded a season-low 22 made field goals. … Portland’s Martell Webster and Rudy Fernandez combined to shoot 2 of 12 from the floor. … Blazers forward Nicolas Batum was held to two points on 0-of-2 shooting. … Aldridge scored at least 15 points for the 16th consecutive game, the longest stretch of his career. … The Blazers host Utah on Sunday.
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