BOSTON — Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.
CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.
Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.
Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.
Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds.
With Boston trailing by one in the closing seconds of regulation, Lillard went to the line and hit two free throws, making it 113-110 with 10.8 seconds left.
But Terry Rozier’s 3-pointer from the right wing tied it with 8.4 seconds left. Lillard then back-rimmed a long jumper at the horn, sending the game to OT.
Portland forward Noah Vonleh fouled out in just 17 minutes of action, scoring eight points with six rebounds.
Trail Blazers: G Evan Turner faced the Celtics for the first time since he signed a free-agent deal with Portland during the off-season and had 12 points. He spent two
“I’ve been wanting to do this a long time,” said Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner Saturday night.
Cherry explained that he’d recently received an email from a hockey parent who brought up the topic of using smaller pucks in minor hockey. The father said that his child was just four years old and had trouble lugging the NHL’s regulation-sized pucks up and down the ice.
“Wouldn’t it be better to have a small puck [for kids]?” asked Grapes. “Walter Gretzky was one of the guys [who advocated for them]. The kids should have a smaller puck so that they can stickhandle and shoot the puck [easier].”
The NHL’s pucks are one inch high, three inches in diameter, and roughly six ounces (170g).
Seems like a simple enough solution for young players to develop and exercise their wrists and arms while encouraging skilled play.
“It’s brilliant,” said Ron MacLean.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to push the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.
Hartnell scored in the first period and got the tiebreaker in the third, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a terrible second period to beat the Hurricanes for the second time this week. Carolina has lost three straight.
Markus Hannikainen also scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for Columbus.
Sebastian Aho and Justin Faulk scored in the second period for Carolina. Michael Leighton, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Thursday, started in place of Cam Ward and stopped 17 shots.
Hannikainen poked in the first goal for Columbus 4:49 into the game off a rebound in front of Carolina’s net. The shot through traffic resulted in the first goal and point of the 23-year-old rookie’s NHL career.
About 10 minutes later, Hartnell got a breakaway and slammed a slap shot past Leighton’s glove from just inside the blue line to put Columbus up 2-0 at the first break.
“I just tried to bury my head and shoot as hard as I could,” Hartnell said.
The second period belonged to the Hurricanes.
Carolina got the first one back on a power play 9:05 in when Aho picked up the loose puck off Jaccob Slavin’s blocked slap shot and found the net from eight feet out.
Justin Faulk tied it at 2 when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and snapped off a shot from the right circle that rattled off the bar