Monday, February 25, 2013
PORTLAND — The pain in his left leg barely tolerable, Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews hoped he wasn't asking for trouble with a step-back 3-pointer at the end of a close game against the Boston Celtics.
“As I was stepping back, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing?’ Matthews said. “Instincts take over there. That's mind over matter.”
The 3-pointer fell and Matthews finished with 24 points in Portland's 92-86 victory Sunday night which snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak.
J.J. Hickson's hook shot put the Blazers ahead 86-80, but a pair of reverse layups from Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass pulled the Celtics to 86-82 with 2:54 left.
Kevin Garnett's layup with 1:46 to go tied it, but rookie Damian Lillard answered with his own layup and added a free throw to give Portland back the lead. Matthews, hobbled throughout the game by a lingering injury to his leg and ankle, hit the 3-pointer to give the Blazers the final margin with 53.9 seconds left.
“I was just hoping my leg stayed with me,” he said.
Pierce had 23 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who were playing their third game in four nights. Garnett finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
“When we needed stops, we couldn't get them, when he had a chance to turn the corner, we didn't turn it,” Garnett said. “I thought we had opportunities to take advantage of it. Eight out of 10 times we didn't do it. Small things, man. Small things.”
Boston was coming off a 113-88 victory at Phoenix on Friday night. Jeff Green scored 31 points against the Suns while Garnett was given the night off to rest, but the veteran forward was back in the starting lineup against the Blazers.
Matthews missed a game because of a sore left leg and elbow but returned Friday night in Portland's 111-107 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. The injury was obviously still bothering him, and he limped badly coming off the court after the third period.
Later, Matthews said his leg's not even at 80 percent.
“He was great for us offensively and defensively. He's been playing hurt these last couple of games, but that's Wes. He's been a warrior for us the whole year and he got it done tonight,” said Hickson, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for his 30th double-double this season.
Guard Eric Maynor also made his debut for Portland after coming to the team in a deal with Oklahoma City at the trade deadline.
Maynor, in his fourth NBA season, missed most of last season with a knee injury and then got bypassed in the Thunder's rotation by second-year guard Reggie Jackson earlier this season. He entered the game late in the first quarter and even played in tandem at times with Lillard, finishing with two points in 15 minutes.
The Celtics jumped out first and led by as many as seven early but Portland pulled in front on Nicolas Batum's 3-pointer, which made it 18-15. Lillard's bank shot and free throw gave the Blazers a 38-27 lead midway through the second quarter.
Courtney Lee hit a 3-pointer and Garnett made a jumper to pull the Celtics to 41-39 with 1:31 left in the first half. Wesley Matthews answered with consecutive 3-pointers and the Blazers led 47-42 at the break.
Avery Bradley's fast-break dunk put the Celtics back in front 55-54 with 8:32 left in the third quarter, but the Blazers regained the lead and were ahead 71-67 going into the final period.
The game stayed close until Matthews made a 3-pointer to put Portland ahead 80-73 with 6:53 to go in the game. LaMarcus Aldridge extended the lead with his own 3 that made it 82-74.
“It was one of those 'my bad' games,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “We just had so many of those 'My faults' where we lost sight of guys. We didn't finish any quarter right. It was a gettable game but give them credit, they made some big shots.”
Jordan Crawford played 12 minutes but did not score in his second game for the Celtics. He was acquired in a deal with the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline on Thursday, so the Celtics were still working him in.
“He's a scorer, but we're going to ask him to do more than that,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said.
Notes: Former Blazers President Larry Miller, now with Nike's Jordan brand, was at the game, as was former Portland Timbers coach John Spencer and Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore. ... The Celtics fell to 9-4 since losing Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury. ... The victory snapped a six-game Portland losing streak in the series against Boston. ... It was Hickson's 19th consecutive game shooting 50 percent or better from the floor, an ongoing franchise record.