"Man, it was nice to be up a bit late in the game," said guard Bonzi Wells, who scored eight points off the bench and was part of the Blazers' second unit that held onto the lead built by the starters. "We've got to learn to get in there and sustain the lead, and we did that tonight."
Boston, which started its road swing with a 101-99 win over Utah last Tuesday, lost at Golden State by 22 points Friday and shot just 38 percent in a 94-91 loss to Seattle on Saturday.
"The shots weren't falling," Kenny Anderson said. "The effort was there, they just weren't falling."
The Blazers led by at least 11 points for most of the fourth quarter and built 19-point lead when Greg Anthony found Wallace for an alley-oop with 5:20 left in the game. Portland then pulled its starters, and Boston was only able to cut the lead to 10 points before the final buzzer.
"You can't turn the ball over and expect to win against the Trail Blazers," coach Rick Pitino said of Boston's 23 turnovers. "They are very tough. If you turn it over, it's suicide for you.
"Portland's talent level is very, very deep, and we're still taking baby steps."
The Blazers were coming off an overtime win at Sacramento on Sunday, which followed four straight lackluster wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State twice and Washington.
The Blazers jumped ahead early in the third quarter, quickly upping their lead to 10 points and keeping it there most of the quarter. The Celtics, who shot 35 percent in the first half, connected on just 10 of 31 shots in the third quarter but prevented an early blowout by outrebounding the Blazers 19-7 in the quarter.
Smith had five straight points to give Portland its largest lead of the third quarter, 73-60 with 3:43 left, and Boston's shooting got progressively worse as the quarter wound down. Williams had five points down the stretch for the Celtics, who cut the lead to nine points before Jermaine O'Neal made it 78-67 with a rebound and basket just before the end of the third quarter.
"We finally got a chance to click offensively and defensively at the same time," Smith said. "Usually it's one quarter defensively and one quarter offensively. Throughout the whole game, we played really well together at both ends of the court."
The Trail Blazers dominated the first quarter, starting the game with an 11-0 run and leading by as many as 13 before the Celtics started chipping away. Scottie Pippen had eight points in the first 6:30, but Boston went on a 14-6 run to end the quarter and cut the lead to 26-23.
"It is always going to be hard to go out and blow a team out because everyone is playing their A-game against us," O'Neal said. "Everyone is coming out gunning, playing their best."
Boston tied it at 43 in the second quarter when Kenny Anderson hit a pair of free throws, but O'Neal put the Blazers back ahead by hitting four free throws. He then picked off Tony Battie's pass to Anderson and took it in for a dunk to make it 49-43 to end the first half.
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