Blazers fight through rough shooting start for win in Boston

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

It wasn’t pretty, but Portland escaped Boston with a 94-88 against the Celtics on Sunday evening. The Blazers were seemingly missing everything to start the game but the Celtics couldn’t take advantage. Eventually Portland’s offense came back and they were able to get out with the win.

The Blazers haven’t had to face the Celtics the past two seasons with Rajon Rondo due to suspension and injury. At least at the outset, it looked like the Blazers, and Lillard in particular had difficulty grasping Rondo’s game. He made four of his first five shots.

But it was on the perimeter where the Celtics struggled. And even though the Blazers were missing almost everything near the basket, the Celtics couldn’t take advantage. Jared Sullinger was 3-for-9 from the three-point line and the rest of the Celtics were 2-for-14.

Portland was struggling just to get their threes off for much of the game. They only took 19 threes on the game, seven fewer than their per game average coming into Sunday. But the Blazers defense and the Celtics inability to capitalize kept Portland in the game.

One game after their bench let Chicago back into the game, Portland’s reserves helped the Blazers play their way back into the game. The Celtics led by as much as 10 points early on in the game and reserves Steve Blake and Chris Kaman played major parts in the come back.

Blake and Kaman have played in every game so far this season and their consistency, particularly in a game where the starters were quiet was huge. Kaman and Blake combined fo 27 points and Joel Freeland had some big buckets in the fourth quarter as a roll man.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with a nice line of 20 points and 14 rebounds while struggling from the field, going 7-for-21 from the field. Lillard struggled for much of the game, going 4-for-14, but made a couple of big baskets and finished with a 12 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Matthews only took 7 shots but had 8 of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics missed an opportunity to build a bigger lead on the Blazers and it eventually came back to haunt them as the Blazers found their rhythm. The Blazers bench flexed their depth and they also flexed their size by out-rebounding the Celtics 55-46.

They didn’t play their best game but they haven’t been doing that often during this streak. Their defense has helped them play through struggles. The most impressive part of the winning streak is the balance which with they’ve won. During the streak the Blazers have had the sixth ranked offense in the league but more impressively the sixth best defense.

Tomorrow they’ll face the winless Sixers before concluding their trip in Charlotte on Wednesday. Should they weather that storm, they could be riding a 9-game winning streak into a Black Friday showdown against the Western Conference leading Grizzlies.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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