Trail Blazers vs Celtics Sunday, 02/24/13 AT 06:00PM

Matthews' Five Threes, Batum's Aggresion Lead To Win Over Celtics

02/25/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Wesley Matthews was on fire from deep all night long, hitting five threes and scoring 24 points to lead the Trail Blazers (26-30) to a 92-89 win over the Boston Celtics (29-27). The home victory helps the Trail Blazers snap a seven-game losing streak.

    After their disappointing loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns at home on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers have avoided the bad starts that have plagued them for much of February. They were aggressive against the Lakers and were aggressive from the get-go again tonight.

    "I think we've just been playing with more of a sense of urgency. We realize that the season is coming to an end and we know we've got to win some games" Lillard, who finished with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds said. "We've got to start putting full games together to give ourselves a chance. I think that's really what it comes down to. Guys know what our situation is."

    The situation is at the forefront of the minds of Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews. Matthews is playing through left elbow and ankle injuries. Batum has been dealing with a wrist injury that hurts whenever he shoots or passes. Both are playing through the pain because they know the Trail Blazers would struggle mightily without them.

    "Yeah, ankle, elbow," Matthews said when asked about the injuries he is playing through.

    "The wrist is the same, I just try to play through it," Batum said. " I was too passive, I wasn't very aggressive, I just passed up shots. Now the team needs me to take shots anyway. I keep practicing and it hurts but I've got to practice with pain."

    Matthews' presence both in the basketball sense and in the spiritual sense of the team has been noticeable in the last two games. Matthews' presence and play, even injured, coupled with Batum's aggressiveness is a key to Portland being in and winning games according to Terry Stotts.

    "We need him to be aggressive," Terry Stotts said about Batum. "We've talked about it as far as that, it doesn't need to be necessarily scoring. We just need for him to be aggressive and to make plays. Whether it's getting to the rim or shooting or passing or driving, he's better and we're better when he's aggressive."

    "We're in the game against the Lakers because he's back and we win this one because he's back, so not to say we couldn't have won it without him, but certainly, he's an instrumental part of what we've done to be successful," Stotts said of Matthews.

    Matthews scored 24 points on 11 shots, going five of eight from three. Batum only shot six of 14 on his way to a 16-point, six-rebound night but his aggressiveness is what the Trail Blazers need, even if he isn't shooting a high percentage. He got to the basket and also hit a couple of threes on the night. Matthews and Batum's solid offensive play was needed as LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 16 points on seven of 15 shooting, was plagued by foul trouble for most of the night.

    With Aldridge in foul trouble, Stotts continued his newest experiment with rookie forward Victor Claver playing power forward rather than small forward. He played some against the Lakers at the four, but tonight he was trust into a larger role and did more than his fair share on the boards, grabbing a career-high of 10, to go along with four points, two steals and a block. Claver also did a very good job on defense where he was mostly matched up with Jeff Green, who scored 31 points on 14 shots against Phoenix on Friday. Green scored 11 points on four of 12 shooting and Batum said Claver was his player of the game and was happy to see a crowd of reporters around his locker after the game.

    "Coach told me to be ready to play at the four, too." Claver said. "With L.A. with fouls at the beginning, I tried to give my best to give energy to the team and that's what I do."

    Hickson, who finished with his 30th double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds and patrols the glass on a nightly basis also gave credit to Claver.

    "Vic was huge. He had 10, 11 boards, that was huge in limited minutes. It was definitely huge. He did a great job defensively and he had a couple steals."

    After joking with Claver about calling him JJ, he jested back saying he would grow a Hickson-style beard.

    Also, the bench contributor everybody in Rip City was waiting to see, new point guard Eric Maynor, turned in a solid performance and looked comfortable running the offense even though he shot 1-5, scoring only two points to go along with three assists in a win in his first game in a Trail Blazer uniform.

    "It feels good," Maynor said on getting a win in his first game. "It felt good to get back in the rotation. The fans are great here. Just tried to go out there and play, that's it."

    Maynor also expressed how much he likes to win and how he will do everything he can to help the Trail Blazers win in the playoffs. He stated that every year in his previous three in the NBA that he has been deep in the playoffs.

    Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 23 points and Kevin Garnett pitched in 20. But the Trail Blazers 47-36 rebound advantage, coupled with clutch shot making by Lillard and Matthews at the end helped seal Portland's first win since February second.

    The Trail Blazers face the Denver Nuggets (35-22) on Wednesday in a big divisional match-up. Tip-off is at 7PM and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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