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Celtics outlast Blazers, hurt Portland's playoff hopes


EditorsNote: updates standings, minor edits

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 34 points and Jaylen Brown added 30, leading the Boston Celtics to a 128-124 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at The Arena near Orlando.

Brown scored 22 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 32.3 seconds left that stretched Boston's lead to 125-119, sinking Portland.

Gordon Hayward added 22 points for Boston, going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. He had six of his points in the final two minutes, making his only field goal try and going 4-for-4 at the foul line.

Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 30 points each. Lillard, who added a season-high and game-high 16 assists, scored 22 of his points after halftime. Nurkic added a game-high nine rebounds.

The Blazers also got 21 points from reserve Gary Trent and 17 from CJ McCollum. Trent made 7 of 11 3-point shots as the Blazers rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit, taking a fourth-quarter lead.

Still, it wasn't enough to prevent a potentially devastating loss for the Blazers, who are chasing the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Portland (30-38) trails the Grizzlies (32-35) by 2 1/2 games. The Celtics (44-22), meanwhile, are two games up on Miami (42-24) in third place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto (47-18) is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Celtics for second.

Boston, smaller but quicker than Portland's starting lineup, led 37-24 at the end of the first quarter. Boston shot 60 percent from the floor in the first quarter, including 63.6 percent on 3-pointers (7 of 11).

The Celtics led by as many as 24 points in the second quarter before settling for a 67-48 advantage at the break.

For the half, Boston shot 56.1 percent from the floor, including 61.1 percent on 3-pointers (11-for-18). Portland shot just 39.1 percent from the floor and hit just 6 of 19 from beyond the arc (31.6 percent).

Portland, led by 11 points each from Lillard and Nurkic, stormed back in the third quarter, trimming the Celtics' lead to 94-86 entering the fourth.

The Blazers took their first lead of the second half on a McCollum 3-pointer that put Portland up 101-98 with 9:13 left in the fourth. But the Celtics fought back, with the game seeing four more ties and five lead changes before the final buzzer.

Portland trailed by three points with three seconds left following Hayward's final two free throws when Nurkic turned the ball over while attempting a long inbounds pass.

A free throw by Tatum then iced the game.

--Field Level Media

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