THE NITTY GRITTY
The Boston Celtics concluded a winless five-game road trip with a familiar script: a gritty effort to hang with one of the Western Conference's powers, but not enough to snap what's now an eight-game losing streak. Avery Bradley -- playing about as close to his hometown of Tacoma, Wash., as he can get -- scored a team-high 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers while pacing six Boston players in double figures. Jared Sullinger added a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) off the bench, while Kris Humphries filled up his stat line (10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 2 assists). LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Robin Lopez (15 points, 13 rebounds) feasted on Boston's undersized frontcourt while pacing seven Blazers in double figures for scoring.
A one-point game one minute into the fourth quarter, the Celtics watched the Blazers embark on a 14-2 run. Boston missed six of seven shots over the next four minutes, while Portland utilized five offensive rebounds (three by Robin Lopez) to help open their biggest lead of the night. Following the pattern of the end of this trip, Boston still made another late fourth-quarter run, surging within six with multiple chances to get closer in the final minutes.
The Trail Blazers put up a whopping 20 offensive rebounds (nine alone by Lopez) while generating 31 second-chance points. Amazingly, Boston had the same number of offensive rebounds, but turned them into a mere 14 points. That wasn't nearly enough to stick around with an offensive-minded squad like the Blazers.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens stretched his rotation to 10 players, adding rookie point guard Phil Pressey back to the mix one night after tightening to nine players. Pressey has two assists over 11:28. ... Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks and Vitor Faverani were all healthy DNPs. ... Boston took excellent care of the basketball, turning it over just nine times for 12 points. The Blazers gave it up 12 times for 17 points. ... The Blazers were their typical stellar selves beyond the 3-point arc, connecting on 10 of 21 attempts (47.6 percent). ... The Celtics shot 70 percent in the first quarter and only had a five-point lead. You knew it wasn't going to be easy after that.
WHAT IT MEANS
Mercifully, this brutal five-game trip out west is over. The Celtics allowed their foes to score 110.6 points per game on this trip on 47.8 percent shooting. Opponents shot 39.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc against the Celtics. For a team with an inconsistent offense like Boston, it was nearly impossible to keep pace. Credit to Stevens for getting his team to stick around the final three games, especially after getting walloped in the first two outings. Boston gets a day off while trekking home Sunday, but the challenges keep coming. The Houston Rockets visit Monday to open a three-game homestand. The Celtics will happily take the cloak of New England football victory while trying to find their way again.