Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/30/12
BOSTON -- Doc Rivers said his Celtics were "a soft team right now" after Wednesday night's loss to the Nets. Friday night, Boston, playing the first of two games without the suspended Rajon Rondo and getting all kinds of help from a woeful Portland team that was coming off losses to 3-11 Detroit and 0-12 Washington, was anything BUT soft. "It was good. Obviously it's one game and it was great. Our defense was fantastic," Rivers said after Boston cruised to a 96-78 win over the Trail Blazers. "Overall, I just liked our focus and how we approached the game." With Rondo sitting for starting a fight with Kris Humphries in Wednesday night's loss, and with Avery Bradley still not back after offseason shoulder surgeries, the Celtics played without a point guard; and never trailed. They blew it open early and won for the third time in the last four games to go to 9-7. "It shows good character for our team," said Courtney Lee, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. "We got beat bad on our own court, then we went to practice; had a real tough practice. Doc was on us the whole time so we wanted to come in and protect home court, because we can't keep letting teams come in and beat us on our home court. "We wanted to bounce back and we did that today." And in raising their home record to 5-4, they also extended their mastery of Portland, Boston winning its sixth consecutive home game against the Blazers, its 13th in the last 14 games overall. Jeff Green, who started the game riding an exercise bike in the runway after suffering a knee injury Wednesday, scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Celtics; after he had gone 1-for-12 from the floor the last two games. Jason Terry had 17 and Paul Pierce 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. "We just basically played through the bigs (men)," Rivers said. "We took all the pressure off the guards. All they had to do was bring it up and throw it to Kevin at the elbow or Jared (Sullinger) at the elbow and then cut and move. That way there's no ... it was easier for them that way. "That's what I meant before the game when I said everybody's going to be the point guard. Basically what I was saying is our bigs are going to be the point guards today." The easy win allowed Rivers to rest Pierce (27 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, five rebounds in 23 minutes), with Boston visiting Milwaukee on Saturday night. Portland fell to 0-4 on its seven-game Eastern swing, coach Terry Stotts pulling his starters for the fourth quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 23 points and eight rebounds but sat out the fourth. J.J. Hickson and Meyers Leonard were the only other Trail Blazers in double figures, with 11 apiece, as Portland hit just 24 baskets and turned the ball over 21 times (five by Aldrige) on a very bad night. "It was disappointing," said Stotts. "Boston came out really aggressive. Doc called them a soft team and they came out aggressive." Rivers started Terry and Lee at the guards and both had strong games as they helped deal with Portland rookie Damian Lillard. Rivers, talking about Lillard before the game, said, "I love him. I think he does everything good. And right. He plays with a great demeanor." Terry then fouled Lillard 1:04 into the game and quickly picked up a technical foul, Lillard missing the free throw; and the rookie continued a his recent shooting slump by going 2-for-8 and scoring a season-low eight points. NOTES: Rivers on the NBA fining the Spurs $250,000 for sitting four players at Miami Thursday night (the fourth game in five nights, sixth in nine): "Listen, we'll do it when we want to do it and we should be able to do it." ... The Blazers are at Cleveland Saturday night as their road trip continues. ... Rondo on the skirmish he started that got him suspended: "I didn't try to start a riot." He said he just didn't like the way Kris Humphries had hit Garnett. ... Like Green, Chris Wilcox (illness) was also questionable and Rivers was hoping not to use him. But with Jason Collins picking up three fouls in relief of Garnett, Wilcox had to play. He logged almost 14 minutes. ... The Celtics called rookie Kris Joseph from the Development League to replace Rondo, and Joseph made his second NBA appearance and scored his first two points. ... Garnett is 11-2 in his head-to-head meetings with Aldridge while Garnett was in Minnesota and Boston. ... Lillard, who came in averaging 19.1 points per game, is the first rookie since 1991 to score at least 12 points in his first 15 NBA games.
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