The Portland Trail Blazers envisioned Sebastien Telfair becoming the cornerstone of their backcourt for years to come when they drafted him out of high school in 2004. Now the Boston Celtics are hoping he’ll do that for them.
Telfair makes his return to the Rose Garden when the struggling Celtics wrap up their five-game road trip against the Trail Blazers on Monday.
Telfair made the jump to the NBA from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. when the Trail Blazers selected him 13th overall. In two lackluster seasons, though, Telfair averaged 8.1 points and 3.5 assists while starting fewer than half of Portland’s games.
He averaged 12.6 points and 4.0 assists through the first eight games last season, but lost his starting job after injuring his thumb. In February, Telfair was suspended two games for violating the league’s firearms policy when he carried a loaded gun onto the team plane after a game in Boston.
Since joining the Celtics as the centerpiece of a five-player trade in June, Telfair has averaged 8.7 points and 4.1 assists in 28 games, including 26 starts. He had 17 points and a team-high seven assists in a 118-90 win over Portland at Boston on Nov. 17.
“If felt good,” he said afterward. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I wouldn’t say it was like revenge or anything—I’m not holding a grudge that bad.”
Boston has won three in a row over Portland by an average of 22.0 points per game. The Celtics haven’t beaten the Trail Blazers four straight times since March 15, 1992-Dec. 3, 1993.
“Zach was the one guy keeping us close, keeping us in the game. He got some things going, but it just wasn’t enough,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
No other Portland player finished in double figures in scoring.
Boston (10-19) remained winless on its road trip, and dropped its sixth straight overall with a 101-95 loss to Seattle on Sunday. Tony Allen led the Celtics with 23 points, and Al Jefferson added 21 and 10 rebounds.
Telfair came off the bench, was 1-for-7 from the floor and finished with two points in 22 minutes.
“It was bad energy to start the game,” said Celtics forward Wally Szczerbiak, who had 13 points in 22 minutes as he continues to come back from a sprained ankle. “We’ve got to figure out a way to start games better and not put us behind the eight-ball. They got a lot of dunks and alley-oops. That stuff we’ve got to clean up.”
Boston also fell to 0-5 without Paul Pierce in the lineup. Pierce, who’s been out since Dec. 21 with a stress reaction in his left foot, leads Boston with 26.6 ppg and may not be back until mid-January.
Four of Boston’s six losses during its skid have been by at least 10 points. The Celtics last lost seven in a row from Feb. 9-25, 2004.