BOSTON — Damian Lillard’s ice-cold start wasn’t enough to freeze up the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers.
Lillard, one of the league’s hottest guards entering Sunday night’s contest, didn’t hit a shot until the 4:59 mark in the second quarter, but his teammates picked up the slack in the second half en route to a 94-88 victory for Portland over the Boston Celtics.
Portland (10-3) has now won seven in a row and its last four against Boston (4-8), which lost for the fifth time in its last six games.
“This was a team win, just because not really anybody offensively had it going,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said.
Lillard may not have shot the ball particularly well — he only made four of his 10 shots and missed four of six 3-point attempts — but Stotts was pleased with his overall contributions.
Despite finishing with only 12 points, snapping a stretch of five straight games with 20-plus points, Lillard supplied nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in nearly 38 minutes.
“There’s so much more to the game than just checking shooting percentage,” Stotts said. “I thought Damian ran the team well. He was aggressive. He defended well. He struggled shooting, but I think most guys on the team struggled shooting.”
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge powered the Trail Blazers with his double-double, scoring a game-high 20 points and scooping up 14 rebounds. Center Chris Kaman had 16 points and eight boards off the bench while Lillard and forward Nicolas Batum each scored 12. Portland shot 43 percent for the game.
“That’s why we call it a team sport, it’s not always on one or two guys,” Aldridge said. “Everybody in the starting lineup can score or can make things happen. (Nicolas) was big early and Robin was, too. I thought those guys stepped up when we needed them to.”
On a night when the first unit struggled to find rhythm, the bench came up big with 31 points.
“The guys off the bench have been contributing,” Stotts said. “I thought everybody that came off the bench contributed.”
Forwards Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 19 points apiece, and Sullinger also grabbed seven rebounds. Guard Rajon Rondo added 13 points and seven assists and guard Avery Bradley also scored 13 for Boston, which shot 39 percent from the floor.
“We were just missing layups and missing open jump shots, and I told the team just now … this loss is the most we can build off of, of any of the other ones, because we really defended a team that’s a really good offensive team,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said.
After missing their first nine shots and falling behind by 10 in the first half, the Trail Blazers whittled the Celtics’ lead in half heading into halftime, 49-44.
An Aldridge layup with 7:36 left in the third gave Portland its first lead of the night, 59-57, and the two sides swapped baskets for the rest of the period, leading to a 72-all tie through three.
A 17-8 run to open up the fourth quarter gave the Trail Blazers their biggest lead of the night at 12 points, but the Celtics were able to pull within four points at 92-88 on a Sullinger 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining.
Green missed a pair of crucial 3s in the last minute, including one on a blown play with 6.9 seconds left.
“I just missed it,” Green said. “I think Avery just went too fast on the play and I just tried to make something out of it. I didn’t realize how much time was on the clock, but it was just a missed shot by me.”
Guard Wesley Matthews’ driving slam dunk with 11.5 to go sealed the deal.
“It’s a team game, and you never know what your offense is going to bring on the road,” Matthews said. “Our defense was there, and we were able to hold out long enough for us to make enough shots.”
NOTES: The Celtics were without rookie G Marcus Smart (sprained left ankle) and C Vitor Faverani (left knee surgery) again on Sunday. Celtics coach Brad Stevens is targeting a “middle of the week” return to practice for Smart and hopes Faverani can practice “sometime in December” and return by Jan. 1. … G C.J. McCollum (fractured right index finger) was out for the Blazers. … Portland G Damian Lillard entered Sunday’s game averaging 25.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists in his last five games. “I think he’s making incremental growth in all areas,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. … Celtics rookie G/F James Young was assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League on Sunday. Young, averaging 3.0 points in three games this season, returns on Monday. … The Blazers visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. The Celtics host the Chicago Bulls on Friday afternoon.
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