BOSTON - Paul Pierce led the charge for the Boston Celtics, scoring 17 of his 22 points in the first half as the C's led by 35 points at halftime and annihilated the Portland Trail Blazers, 104-86, in their last game at TD Garden until the end of the month on Friday night.
"I just thought we played extremely well, and they struggled," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "You could see they missed shots early and they got frustrated. There was a stretch for us, our ball movement was absolutely sensational."
Pierce made 7-of-13 shots to lead a Celtics scoring attack that registered 47.7 percent shooting. Pierce was playing in his 1,000th career game, all with the Celtics, and was honored with a graphic on the jumbotron and received a well-deserved standing ovation.
"I remember how nervous I was," Pierce said about his first career game, now 13-plus seasons ago. "When you think back to your first game ever here in the Garden, your excited to get your career started. And now with so many years passed, and I've reached a thousand games it's like wow I see a combination of a long time and that I'm getting old."
Kevin Garnett (10 points, eight rebounds) also had a milestone night, surpassing the 45,000 career minute mark (12th all-time) while moving into second place all-time in defensive rebounds, but the statistic has only been tracked since the 1973-1974 season.
Portland led 10-8 after a jumper from LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points) at the 7:48 mark of the first quarter, but Boston responded with a 10-0 run to grab an eight point lead and never looked back. Rajon Rondo (eight points, five assists) scored the final six points of the quarter as the Celts pulled ahead by 10 points, 27-17, after twelve minutes.
Boston took complete control at the start of the second, scoring 16 unanswered before a Nicolas Batum layup with 7:06 to play before halftime, giving them a 43-19 lead. Prior to Batum's basket, the Blazers only had three more points (17) than they did turnovers (14) ater coughing the ball up nine times in the first.
Pierce took control and scored 12 points in the second to finish the half with 17, putting the Celts on top at the intermission, 60-35. The single-half scoring output was the Celtics' highest of the season while the Blazers narrowly avoided their season low for points in a half (30). Portland had 17 giveaways the the half while Boston only had three. The Celtics shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor while Portland was held to 33.3 percent shooting.
"Yeah, [we] forced a lot of turnovers," said Rivers. "Again, I thought it was all Rondo's ball pressure. I thought Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen), everybody was up, Kevin (Garnett) forced (LaMarcus) Aldridge way out away from the bucket. So you know maybe the other night, one of the smart things we did do is we pulled the plug early enough to have our legs for tonight. That may have been the best thing."
The second half wasn't any better for Portland, which fell into a deeper hole in the third quarter after a three from Pierce that gave the C's a 41 point advantage, 79-38, with 6:28 remaining. Ray Allen (22 points) made a layup gave Boston its biggest lead of the night, 43 points (81-38) at 5:56, further cementing Portland's fate.
"That's an unprofessional approach," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said about his team's game. "There was no basketball being played out there tonight. We didn't play with enough effort to give ourselves a chance to win this ball game tonight. We knew that Boston would be very aggressive tonight after their loss and they were. They came out, they jumped on us and we never was into this game."
Saturday is a travel day for the Celtics, who head out for an eight-game West coast road trip, starting with a rematch against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon.