The Boston Celtics got their West Coast trip started with authority.
Ray Allen scored 18 points, Paul Pierce added 17 and Boston beat the Portland Trail Blazers 88-78 Thursday night.
”Once we took the lead and built it, we knew it was over,” Kevin Garnett said.
Rajon Rondo had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Celtics, winners of seven of their last eight. Garnett had 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Kendrick Perkins had 10 points and nine rebounds in his second game back since tearing knee ligaments in last year’s NBA finals.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers, and Andre Miller added 14 points and seven assists. Wesley Matthews had 12 points but shot just 4 of 15 from the field.
The Blazers made only two of their first 12 shots to start the fourth quarter and fell behind 78-63. But Portland hit five shots in a row, with Rudy Fernandez making a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 82-77 with 48.9 seconds remaining.
However, Glen Davis and Garnett each made two free throws to seal it.
The Celtics, playing the first game of a four-game road trip, were downright sloppy at times, tying a season high with 21 turnovers. Portland took 26 more shots than Boston, but made just 36 percent from the field.
”I thought their pressure got us going a little too fast,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ”They played extremely hard tonight, and you knew they would, reading the papers about how physical they were going to be with us.”
Aldridge was playing with a bruised hip sustained Monday against Sacramento. The reigning Western Conference player of the week had just nine points in the 96-81 loss, which snapped the Blazers’ five-game winning streak.
Against Boston, the Blazers got a lift from the bench in the first half, getting eight points from Dante Cunningham and six points from Patrick Mills. Pierce, who had 14 in the half, made a 3-pointer to give Boston a 40-33 lead. The Blazers cut the lead to four by halftime.
Pierce faded into the background in the second half. After the game he complained of a sore ankle hurt on Tuesday and a sore knee that he said he banged against one of the Blazers. He wasn’t sure if he would play against Friday against Phoenix.
”We’ll check it out and see how it feels,” he said. ”Hopefully by then it won’t be too bad.”
Boston went up 62-52 after Allen made his third 3-pointer and then scored on a layup.
”I think it just shows that’s a great team,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. ”I mean, that team is prepared and built to win a championship.”
Notes: G Marquis Daniels returned to the Celtics after missing a game with a family issue. C Shaquille O’Neal missed his third game in a row with a sore hip. He said before the game he expects to play Friday against Phoenix. … The Blazers did not attempt a free throw until the final minute of the first half. … Portland F Nicolas Batum left the game with a sore hip in the second quarter and did not return.