PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The pain in his left leg barely tolerable, Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews hoped he wasn't asking for trouble with a step-back 3-pointer at the end of a close game against the Boston Celtics.
"As I was stepping back, I was like, 'Oh, my God, what am I doing?' Matthews said. "Instincts take over there. That's mind over matter."
The 3-pointer fell and Matthews finished with 24 points in Portland's 92-86 victory Sunday night which snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak.
J.J. Hickson's hook shot put the Blazers ahead 86-80, but a pair of reverse layups from Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass pulled the Celtics to 86-82 with 2:54 left.
Kevin Garnett's layup with 1:46 to go tied it, but rookie Damian Lillard answered with his own layup and added a free throw to give Portland back the lead. Matthews, hobbled throughout the game by a lingering injury to his leg and ankle, hit the 3-pointer to give the Blazers the final margin with 53.9 seconds left.
"I was just hoping my leg stayed with me," he said.
Pierce had 23 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who were playing their third game in four nights. Garnett finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
"When we needed stops, we couldn't get them, when he had a chance to turn the corner, we didn't turn it," Garnett said. "I thought we had opportunities to take advantage of it. Eight out of 10 times we didn't do it. Small things, man. Small things."
Boston was coming off a 113-88 victory at Phoenix on Friday night. Jeff Green scored 31 points against the Suns while Garnett was given the night off to rest, but the veteran forward was back in the starting lineup against the Blazers.
Matthews missed a game because of a sore left leg and elbow but returned Friday night in Portland's 111-107 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. The injury was obviously still bothering him, and he limped badly coming off the court after the third period.
Later, Matthews said his leg's not even at 80 percent.
"He was great for us offensively and defensively. He's been playing hurt these last couple of games, but that's Wes. He's been a warrior for us the whole year and he got it done tonight," said Hickson, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for his 30th double-double this season.
Guard Eric Maynor also made his debut for Portland after coming to the team in a deal with Oklahoma City at the trade deadline.
Continue reading this story on the...