Celtics vs. Trail Blazers takeaways: Fourth quarter still a problem for Cs

The Boston Celtics have had problems closing games all season. This was again the case in Friday night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Down 15 points in the second quarter, the C’s led a 27-7 series to take a four-point lead into the half. They widened that lead to 11 in the fourth quarter, but a points drought in the final seven minutes of the game resulted in a 109-105 loss.

Jusuf Nurkic had a season-high 29 points for the Blazers with 17 rebounds. CJ McCollum had 24 points and Anfernee Simons added 21.

Jayson Tatum led the Cs with 27 points while Jaylen Brown added 22 as Boston’s only other double-digit starter.

Forsberg: What’s wrong with Tatum’s shot, and can fixing it save the Cs?

Here are three takeaways from the Celtics’ loss, which takes them to 23-24 this season. They will visit the Washington Wizards for a showdown Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Celtics fourth quarter struggles continue

Add Friday night’s game to the growing list of candidates for Boston’s “worst loss of the season.” The fourth quarter was a nightmare for most of the campaign and this loss was no different.

The Celtics appeared to be on course for a rebounding victory as they held a 100-89 lead with 7:19 left in the fourth. It was all downhill from there. Portland finished the game on a 20-5 run to steal a 109-105 victory.

Boston had 16 possessions and went 0 for 10 from the floor in the 7:19 game finale. His five points came from free throws. He returned the ball three times during this period.

Needless to say, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka wasn’t too happy with yet another stunning loss.

“The disappointment, the technical staff like the players, obviously,” he said after the match. “We had taken a bit of a step back lately in the fourth quarter…it felt like we had taken a bit of a step back.”

Prior to Friday’s collapse, the Celtics were 3-2 in January “clutch” games. They hope to avoid returning to December form when they were 2-7 in these types of close games.

Death comes in threes

After shooting just 30.4% from 3 in their loss to Charlotte, the Celtics again struggled to 11-37 (29.7%) as a team from beyond the arc against Portland. The Trail Blazers went 16-33 (48.5%) from 3-point range, and that ultimately made the difference.

It was another tough shooting night for all five Celtics starters, but Jayson Tatum’s ongoing 3-point woes are the main concern. The All-Star wing has now missed 20 straight 3s since the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls’ game last Saturday. This is the longest 3-point drought of his career.

Tatum went 0 for 6 over 3s, his last attempt coming in the final minute of the fourth quarter when Boston needed a bucket.

His bizarre 3-point drop aside, it was a good night for Tatum. He finished with 27 points (8 for 13 from inside the arc), 10 rebounds and seven assists. Eleven of his points came from the free throw line, further proving that good things happen when he attacks the basket.

Romeo Langford and Grant Williams add a spark

Looking for something positive to take away from another tough Celtics loss? We have what you need.

Romeo Langford has been outstanding off the bench for Boston. The 22-year-old guard was a +17 with 12 points in 23 minutes. He added two blocks and an energy boost when the Cs needed something from their second unit.

Langford has scored in double figures in two consecutive games, marking the first time he has done so in his young NBA career.

Grant Williams also provided a lot of energy off the bench. While most of the team struggled from 3, Williams continued his impressive shot from beyond the arc punching three of his five attempts.

Williams finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes.

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