Jermaine O'Neal didn't have a lot of time to change the game.
And he didn't need it.
"It's hard sometimes when you watch the clock dwindle down. You think 'I know I can make things happen,"' said O'Neal, the 10th of 10 Trail Blazers to get into the game. "But there's a lot of talent on this team."
"We went to Jermaine and said, 'Go in there and give us some energy on the glass,"' Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He gave us some energy and did some good things off the boards."
With their eighth victory in nine games, the Blazers improved to 36-11 the best record in the NBA, one-half game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We felt like we should win this game hands-down," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who was just 6-for-14 from the floor and 3-for 6 from the line. "They're the premier team in the league, but we felt we should have won. We just let it slip away."
Vitaly Potapenko scored 19 for Boston and Kenny Anderson had 11 with 10 assists.
The Blazers took a 71-70 lead into the fourth quarter before O'Neal opened the fourth with two offensive rebounds and a fourth-chance dunk. He then answered Tony Battie's jumper with a dunk off an alley-oop to make it 75-72 with 10:41 left in the game.
After Danny Fortson made two free throws for Boston, O'Neal's layup and free throw gave the Blazers a 78-74 lead.
Portland protected its lead until Boston made a weak charge in the final minutes.
Walker hit a running one-hander to make it 92-88 with 1:43 left. After Pippen made a 3-pointer from the top of the key his only basket of the fourth quarter Walker made another 3 to keep the lead at four points.
Portland made three of four free throws down the stretch to clinch it.
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