Trail Blazers 92, Celtics 86

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.