for this game

Celtics cruise to 11th straight win

Dec 6, 2008 - 5:38 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers were the latest team to experience the frustration of playing the red-hot Boston Celtics.

Ray Allen scored 19 points and the Celtics went on a 21-0 run bridging the second and third quarters to blow open a close game and capture their 11th straight win, 93-78, on Friday at TD Banknorth Garden.

It's Boston's longest winning streak since capturing 14 straight in March and April of 1986.

"It's hard to say, I'm definitely not counting, or taking a survey," Allen responded when asked to explain the winning streak. "I just know that we want to continue to get better. Find ways to get each individual player better, and that does make the team better."

Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Rajon Rondo filled up the box score with 16, eight and seven assists for Boston, which improved to an NBA-best 19-2, including 12-1 at home.

"Our strength right now is the defense," Garnett said. "We've embraced it and that's what we hang our hat on every night. We know that in order for us to be the team that we want to be we have to play that. I think for the most part we've been consistent with it. It's definitely our foundation right now."

The Celtics outrebounded the Trail Blazers, 43-31, including 17-9 on the offensive glass against the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA.

"First of all, we stopped turning the ball over," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We had, I think in the first quarter, four or five in a row turnovers, which led to their break and led to them scoring a little bit.

"But once we stopped turning the ball over and started dominating the glass, which was the key - I mean, they're not a good offensive rebounding team, they're the best in the league."

The Celtics are the first team in NBA history to follow an 18-2 start one season with a 19-2 start the next.

"Good win for us," Rivers added. "I thought the second and third quarter were phenomenal; I thought that was the difference in the game. I loved their defensive effort. I loved their energy."

LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw finished with 13 points apiece to lead Portland, which fell to 16-5 and had its six-game winning streak snapped.

The Trail Blazers took an early 17-12 lead as Aldridge led the way with six first-quarter points.

Trailing, 36-35, the Celtics went on a 14-0 spurt to end the second quarter and take a 49-36 halftime lead.

Portland was held scoreless for the final 3:54 of the first half.

The margin grew as the third quarter began, with Boston scoring the first seven points of the period to assume a 56-36 lead on Paul Pierce's two free throws with 9:33 remaining in the third.

Roy made 1-of-2 free throws with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter to end Portland's drought at six minutes, 59 seconds. Roy's layup with 7:02 remaining in the quarter gave the visitors their first field goal since Rudy Fernandez's dunk with 3:54 left in the second.

Portland made just five of its 17 shots in the third as Boston pulled away to a 74-51 lead after three.

"They are just stronger mentally and physically," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "The defense tightened up towards the end of the first and into the second and basically we didn't have movement in our offense. We really gotta use each other when you play against a team like this that's physical on the defensive end of the floor.

"It became 1-on-1; you won't be able to penetrate or attack them going one on one. We had five assists in the first quarter, two in the second quarter, and four in the entire second half. Eleven assists, we have got to get more movement."

Portland drew to within 11 twice in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics responded with dunks by Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, respectively. Perkins finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

Greg Oden had just five points and six rebounds before fouling out with 3:50 remaining in the game.

"They're the world champions, they can do a lot of that stuff (being aggressive)," Oden said. "When you try to be aggressive back, you don't get the same calls as they do. That's where we're trying to get, to that point of respect because then you get respect from the refs, too.

"Also, when you do stuff like that, you get extra respect from the refs, and that's NBA basketball. We kind of got away from what we've been doing, and that's playing as a team. We are used to keeping our composure in tight games, but it's kind of hard to keep your composure when you're down 20."