The Celtics looked unfazed with their All-Star point guard out, cruising past the Portland Trail Blazers for an 18-point victory. The Celtics took the lead with a Paul Pierce layup seconds into the game, giving them an early 2-0 advantage. They would never surrender that lead, forcing Portland to play from behind the entire game.
Boston improves their record to 9-7 and 5-4 at home with this victory. This matches the Celtics’ largest margin of victory on the year.
With Rajon Rondo out, Boston received a much needed boost from their second unit. Jeff Green came off the bench to lead the Celtics with 19 points. Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger chipped in with nine points each. As a whole, Boston’s bench outscored Portland’s 41-22.
Courtney Lee, who had been coming off the bench, was inserted into the starting lineup in Rondo’s absence. He had his strongest game of the season with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Receiving consistent production from Courtney Lee would add another offensive and defensive dimension to this Celtics’ team.
LaMarcus Aldridge was the game’s leading scorer, went 8 of 16 from the floor, hitting seven free throws for 23 points. Aldridge was only one of three players in double figures for Portland, in comparison to Boston with five.
This was one of the better defensive performances by the Celtics, allowing their fewest points of the season. Boston did a solid job of forcing Portland into contested jumpers.They shot a miserable 34.8 percent from the floor and 20 percent from behind the arc. The Celtics also played the passing lanes aggressively, coming up with 16 steals.
Doc Rivers emphasized running more than in previous seasons, and Boston’s success in causing turnovers allowed them to get out in transition tonight. They finished with 20 fast break points and were able to play at a rapid pace despite the lack of a true point guard.
Celtics’ fans got a glimpse of rookie Kris Joseph, who received his first NBA action tonight. Joseph was called up earlier today from the Maine Red Claws and finished with two points..
Boston will have little time to rest, as they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks tomorrow night. The two have split a pair of meetings on the year, with Boston winning at Milwaukee on November 10.