PORTLAND — Before the Trail Blazers took the court against the Boston Celtics Thursday, they learned the news that they would be without LaMarcus Aldridge for six-to-eight weeks to surgically repair his left hand.
But their bad day wasn’t over. Evan Turner’s 3-pointer off an assist from a seated Jared Sullinger with one second left gave the Celtics a 90-89 victory Thursday at the Moda Center.
Turner ran around the court with his arms stretched out like an airplane, flying around the court as the home crowd could only groan. Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s defeat in Phoenix, it was the second night in a row Portland had lost in the final seconds.
“A little like last night, we had a chance to win the game,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “We needed one more play and we didn’t make it.”
The Celtics, a team that’s trading off players faster than they can get on green and white uniforms, had a good night after getting a rare road win. The Blazers absorbed anything but a good night as they sat in locker room.
“We blew it,” said Wesley Matthews who finished with 18 points. “We had possessions. We had chances, we had opportunities.”
Nicolas Batum left in the third quarter after re-injuring his right wrist and did not return. The Blazers finished the game without their secondary playmaker or dominant post-presence.
The Blazers went 4-for-23 in the final period and lost for the first time this season when leading after three quarters.
Damian Lillard, who was unable to get a shot off on the Blazers final play of the game, won’t take any excuses given to the Blazers for losing without Aldridge.
“We’re an NBA team,” said Lillard after he went 8-for-23 from the field. “It’s not like we can stop our schedule until everybody gets healthy. We just have to keep moving forward and keep winning games.”
After scoring a season high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns, Batum felt pain in the first quarter after diving for a ball.
Batum’s wrist had bothered him a few times over the past few weeks but the pain would eventually subside. This time it didn’t.
“When I (hurt it) that the last 2 or 3 weeks, it goes away after 2-3 minutes,” Batum said. “That’s why I kept playing. The pain was still there when I came out. The pain started going again.”
Batum was evaluated at halftime.
“They checked me out at half-time,” Batum said. “They wanted me to come back and I was trying to come back and play a second time, I played two minutes and I couldn’t do anything.”
In the third quarter he keeled over in pain and walked toward the Blazers bench before ripping off the tape on his wrist and storming into the locker room.
Batum said it was a struggle to even move his wrist after the game and that he has yet to get an MRI.
“I don’t know if I’m going to miss a game or not,” he said. “I really can’t use it.”
The Celtics led at halftime. The game was neck-and-neck as Terry Stotts tried a variety of different line-ups. 11 of their 12 active players played in the first half.
Matthews lit up the Celtics in the second half. And behind Matthews’ archery, the Blazers stormed back and led by as much as seven points in the third quarter. Matthews scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.
After going 1-for-10 in the first half, the Blazers went a blistering 7-for-9 from long range.
A free-throw by Wesley Matthews gave the Blazers an 88-87 lead. Thomas Robinson grabbed a big offensive rebound which led to him being sent to the free-throw line. Robinson extended the lead to 89-87 with 26.6 seconds left.
After the Turner shot, the Blazers had one second left to try and tie the game. The Blazers came out with a play before calling a timeout to draw up another one which resulted in a pass to Damian Lillard and a shot that didn’t get off before the final buzzer.
“We ran one play and they covered it well,” Stotts said. “The second play, Wes may have been open but they zoned it up and they did a good job.”
“I knew we didn’t have no more timeouts,” Lillard said. “I just tried to run to an open space and caught the ball half court so I just try to change directions and get more comfortable going towards the rim and time ran out. I probably should have thrown it up anyway.”
No Aldridge, no Batum, no Lillard time and no win. The day started rough for the Blazers and didn’t end any better.