The Boston Celtics apparently took head coach Doc Rivers' comments about them being a "soft team" to heart on Friday night. Just one night after losing PG Rajon Rondo to suspension, the Celtics showed up big in a 96-78 smearing of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Jason Terry came up big in place of Rondo in the starting lineup, and the Celtics took a huge halftime lead before coasting to the double-digit victory. It was truly a team effort for Boston, as seven players had at least nine points, led by Jeff Green's 19 off the bench.
Portland couldn't get anything going on offense in the first half, and it cost the team the game down the stretch. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 23 points and eight rebounds, but Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews combined to shoot just 4-of-14 for 13 points.
It's a big win for Boston, as it gets back to two games above .500 while chasing Brooklyn and New York at the top of the NBA Atlantic Division standings.
Player of the Game: Boston G Jason Terry
Terry did something he's done for so many years in Dallas—step into the starting lineup and provide a spark. Rivers needed someone to run the offense with Rondo suspended, and Terry was up to the challenge.
He finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The big number, though, was the zero he put on the board in the turnover department. Boston used a balanced attack on offense with Rondo out, but it would have been easy to point out Terry as a culprit if things went awry.
The savvy veteran stepped up big when his teammates needed him the most and helped win Boston fans over even more with a win this team desperately needed.
Up Next for the Trail Blazers
Portland is past the midway point of this brutal seven-game road trip and will travel to Cleveland on Saturday night for a tilt with the struggling Cavaliers before then heading to Charlotte on Monday.
Saturday night will pit top 2012 draft picks Dion Waiters (No. 4) and Lillard (No. 6) against each other for the first time in their young careers. It will also be a good benchmark for how good Portland can be this year. Winnable games like this, even on the road, must be taken care of to get back into the playoff mix.
Up Next for the Celtics
Boston will travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks on Saturday night. The Bucks handed Boston its second straight loss to open the season, a 99-88 decision that had some Boston fans worried early on.
The Celtics will be without Rondo yet again, as he serves the final game of his two-game suspension. Terry and the rest of these guards will have to contend with the duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to get some revenge from earlier this season.