Celtics battle back to stun Trailblazers
BOSTON (AP) – Al Horford captured the attention of Boston sports fans even on Super Bowl Sunday.
Horford made a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer and the Celtics finished off the Portland Trail Blazers 97-96 Sunday, giving New England fans a few hours to get home before the Patriots played for the NFL championship.
“Wanted to end the game so we could go watch the Super Bowl,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Stevens spoke while wearing a Patriots hat. He was joined by Eagles fan and Celtics player Marcus Morris, who sported an Eagles jersey.
“I called game when Al hit the turnaround, just so you know,” Morris said.
Stevens smiled, adding: “Al feels a lot like Tom Brady today, right?”
The crowd at TD Garden was dotted with jerseys for Patriots stars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. An Eagles fan shown on the Jumbotron repeatedly got booed.
Horford wound up with 22 points and 10 rebounds, helping Boston win its fourth in a row.
“He (Stevens) had called a play for Jaylen (Brown) but they were ready for it so he kept yelling keep the ball, keep the ball,” Horford said. “It’s a shot I work on a lot and it felt good when it left my hands.”
Horford hit a game-winning shot with 3.7 seconds left against Houston earlier this season and also hit a buzzer-beater for Atlanta to beat Washington during the 2013-14 season
Damian Lillard shot just 6 for 19, but scored Portland’s final eight points, including a 3-point play with 7.2 seconds remaining to give the Blazers a 96-95 lead.
C.J. McCollum led the Blazers with 22 points and Lillard added 21.
“They executed well down the stretch, made some tough shots,” McCollum said. “Credit them for battling back and then down the stretch they seemed to match every basket.”
Boston trailed 85-79 with 5:37 to go before going on an 11-0 run, sparked by consecutive 3-pointers from Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum and Horford.
Tatum had 17 points and Brown scored 16 for the Celtics.
“That shot epitomizes the work he puts in,” Brown said. “He embraces those opportunities and steps up to the challenge.”
Terry Rozier had with 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting after recording a triple-double and a career-high 31 points in his previous two games starting in place of Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
Portland had scored over 100 points in its previous 17 games. Lillard missed 10 of his first 11 shots.
Irving missed his third straight game with a bruised quad.
Morris missed his second with a hip injury and Shane Larkin was out for the fourth straight.
Maurice Harkless hit a career-high five 3-pointers and finished with 19. Harkless had 20 points in Portland’s last 13 games.
Portland has dropped six of eight on the road.
Boston had more 3-pointers in the first half than two-pointers (8-5). This was the 10th time this season the Celtics have overcome a double-digit lead. Boston is 15-5 against the Western Conference.