The Portland Trail Blazers continue to look for ways to win, beating the Boston Celtics 97-92 to win the first four games of their seven-game journey. The two teams, visibly tired, struggled until the last minute, but Portland kept a lead for most of the evening and never gave up. Here are some key details.
Start Me Up. The depth of the Blazers bench was not exposed tonight as they combined for only 13 points in a seemingly overlooked appearance. However, with Portland scoring 97 points on 90 shots, the effectiveness was nowhere else in the training. Damian Lillard has always defeated the Boston defense with 33 points on 28 shots.
The wall. Jusuf Nurkic led the way in the fourth quarter as Boston tried his last comeback. Twice, he turned the shots away, leaving Kyrie Irving stunned and frustrated. Meanwhile, Moe Harkless has returned to defensive intensity and Seth Curry has helped make critical defensive play against the Celtics, subject to error.
Money from the house. With 7 consecutive games on the East Coast, the Blazers looked bad. But they have already won their first four. Coach Terry Stotts said many Blazers got used to a week-long Eastern Time during the All-Star break and that had paid off.
Imperfect foreigners. For the second time on their road trip, the Blazers faced off against a team that did not seem to like being on the field together. Just as at their stopover in Philadelphia, Portland's opponent made several missteps in defense, with very little communication. Portland had several easy layups, dunks and (often missed) three-point attempts as the Celtics ran around, then mocked afterwards.
The Raptors seem to love each other, so Portland should have a big challenge on Friday night in Toronto.