for this game

Aldridge leads Roy-less Blazers past Celtics

Dec 31, 2008 - 7:04 AM By James Reddick PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- After losing only twice in their first 29 games, the Boston Celtics have suddenly dropped three of their last four.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Steve Blake added 21 as the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers posted a 91-86 victory over the Celtics on Tuesday.

Travis Outlaw added 17 off the bench for Portland, which played without All-Star guard Brandon Roy due to a right hamstring injury he suffered Saturday against Toronto.

"We had to step it up a notch," Blake said. "We go out there together. We support each other and it's nice to know your teammates have your back."

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Kevin Garnett added 17 and eight rebounds to pace the Celtics, who finished 1-3 on their road trip. Boston entered the trip with a 19-game winning streak.

Portland scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 70-64 lead and never trailed over the rest of the final 12 minutes.

"They don't beat themselves," Blazers coach Nate Mcmillan said about the Celtics. "You have to beat them. You have to make shots and you have to outrebound and out-scrap them."

Blake drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Blazers a seven-point edge, but Kendrick Perkins answered with a three-point play and Garnett made 1-of-2 free throws to cut the Celtics' deficit to 79-76 with 4:17 remaining.

Trailing by two points with 1:11 remaining, the Celtics squandered a chance to tie the game - or take the lead - when Rajon Rondo had his cross-court pass intercepted by a sprawling Rudy Fernandez underneath the basket. Aldridge, who had 10 points in the fourth quarter, then hit a hook shot with 59 ticks left to make it 85-81.

"Down the stretch we just made bad plays," Celtics guard Ray Allen said. "It was reminiscent of the other losses."

Pierce's three-point play pulled Boston within 87-86 with 23 seconds left, but Sergio Rodriguez made a pair from the line to push Portland's advantage to three with 18 seconds to play.

Eddie House air-balled a 3-pointer and rookie Fernandez connected on two more free throws to seal the victory.

"It's a tough one to swallow," Pierce said. "They did all the little things and they got to all the loose balls."

After the Trail Blazers took an early 7-2 lead, the Celtics went on a 23-6 run which gave them a sizable 12-point margin early in the second quarter. It was Pierce who led the way early on for the Celtics, scoring 12 points in the first 14 minutes.

Blake kept the Blazers in the game, as he contributed 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half while Greg Oden, the usually timid Blazers rookie, received a technical foul at 5:11 of the second quarter after his hard foul sent Allen sprawling into the first row.

His display of emotion seemed to ignite his struggling team as it closed out the quarter strong, drawing within 45-40 at the half. Oden finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston was outrebounded, 44-29, and had its seven-game winning streak against Portland snapped.

"We've just got to get back to the drawing board," Rondo said.