Celtics win third straight
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)Ray Allen scored 21 points, including eight straight early in the fourth quarter to stymie a run by Portland, and the Boston Celtics beat the Trail Blazers, 96-76, on Friday night.
Kevin Garnett scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half, helping the Celtics on the second night of a difficult West Coast two-step. After holding off the Lakers, 87-86, Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Celtics easily dispatched a rested Portland team and handed the Blazers their worst loss of the season.
Garnett and his frontcourt mates dominated the interior in the first half, as Boston built an 18-point halftime lead. When Portland made its charge in the fourth quarter, Allen knocked down a pair of key threes to keep the lead in double figures.
Andre Miller led the Blazers with 16 points, but the debut of Marcus Camby in Portland was a dud. Camby made his first shot, then missed his next four. He finished with two points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.
All-Star Brandon Roy played 34 minutes in just his second game since Jan. 20. Roy made three of eight shots and finished with nine points, but struggled to get open looks and appeared distracted by his gimpy leg.
How frustrating was it for Roy? In one of his swiftest moves of the night, Roy sprinted baseline to gather a rebound and dunk, only to be called for having his heel on the baseline.
But for all the angst by the Blazers' flat first three quarters, they pulled within nine on Rudy Fernandez's three-point play to open the fourth. But Fernandez was called for charging on consecutive possessions -- both drawn by Glen Davis and both waving off made baskets -- and two Allen three-pointers quickly pushed the lead back to 15.
Portland's 76 points were a season low.
The short-handed Celtics thought they might have even fewer bodies before the game when a sprained thumb started acting up on Paul Pierce. He played and added nine points, and the Celtics got 33 points from their bench while still waiting for the arrival of Nate Robinson.
Acquired in a trade with the Knicks, Robinson will remain on the East Coast while recovering from the flu before joining his new team.
With Camby's long arms now roaming the middle, the Blazers were expected to get a defensive boost out of the trade that should help solidify a middle decimated by injuries this season. But Boston scored 32 points in the paint in the first half, shot 73 percent in the first quarter and faced little resistance getting shots near the rim.
Boston took command with a 10-2 run early in the first quarter where four different players scored baskets. The Celtics bench kept the surge going into the second quarter with 11 of the first 16 points of the quarter. Boston's reserves shot 7 of 13 in the first half, while Portland's bench was a combined 0 for 9 with five points.
While Portland's defense was porous, the Celtics' defense was suffocating, especially in the second quarter. Portland managed just three made baskets in the quarter. All three came from Aldridge, but the first wasn't until there was 5:15 left in the half, an emphatic dunk over Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. Portland's 13 points in the second quarter matched a season low.
NOTES: Celtics coach Doc Rivers is expecting Robinson to make his debut Tuesday night when the Celtics return home to face the Knicks. ... One fan in Seattle SuperSonics gear sat at midcourt behind the Blazers bench and flashed a Sonics flag for television cameras on nearly every possession. ... Rondo was called for a technical foul in the third quarter after getting flattened by an Aldridge screen in the backcourt and threw his mouthpiece at the Celtics bench near an official.