Celtics blow late lead in loss to Portland – Boston Herald


The Celtics, known beyond this season for playing to the level of their opposition, took another dip Friday night with a 109-105 loss to a Portland team missing its greatest player — Damian Lillard.

Jayson Tatum is clearly in the strangest shooting slump of his career, without a make in his last 20 3-point attempts, though the Celtics star finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Celtics, in one of their familiar droughts, didn’t make a basket in the last 7:19.

Tatum, who last hit a 3-pointer during a Jan. 15 win over Chicago, was 1-for-16 from downtown over the three games heading into Friday night, when he was 0-for-6.

Jaylen Brown, fouled on a drive, broke a 100-100 tie with 41.5 seconds left on two free throws, breaking a 6:30 drought by the Celtics.

Robert Covington answered from the corner for a 103-102 Portland lead with 31.3 seconds left. Tatum, fouled by Jusuf Nurkic, hit twice for a one-point lead with 26.8 seconds left.

Nurkic rebounded an Anfernee Simons miss and scored with 13.1 seconds left to take the lead back again. Tatum came out of a timeout missing his sixth 3 attempt of the night, Rob Williams missed the tip, and with 3.5 seconds left Covington hit twice from the line for a three-point lead.

Tatum, intentionally fouled, hit his first free throw, intentionally missed the second, and Nurkic grabbed the rebound.

Tatum cut the Blazers lead to a point (83-82) on a three-point play drive with 12 seconds left in the third, bringing the Celtics back after they had frittered away an eight-point edge earlier in the quarter. Tatum and Brown each had 20 points — Tatum was 0-for-5 from downtown — and the Celtics immediately received a boost when Romeo Langford buried a corner trey for an 85-83 Celtics lead.

Tatum, fouled attempting a bomb, followed with three free throws for an 87-83 Celtics lead. Payton Pritchard extended the run to 12-0 — Tatum’s third quarter-ending drive included — with a 3-pointer for a 91-83 edge.

Portland retrenched, until Langford, 4-for-5 to this point with a pair of 3-pointers, triggered a 7-0 run with a 20-footer. The burst included another 3 from Pritchard, and gave the Celtics a 100-89 lead with 7:20 left.

A pair of C.J. McCollum jumpers cut the Celtics edge to six points, Grant Williams drew a charge on Nurkic in the post, and Brown missed his second straight 3-point attempt.

Simons extended the run to 6-0, cutting the Celtics edge to four, and then two on a Nurkic layup. Portland tied the game at 100-100 on a Nasir Little drive.

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