Trail Blazers 105, Celtics 98

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BOSTON (AP)—Darius Miles is just one of Portland’s very athletic and talented players. On Wednesday night, he was the best.

He scored a career-high 31 points, the Trail Blazers hit a season-high 61 percent of their shots and their big men kept the Boston Celtics from driving to the basket effectively in Portland’s 105-98 win.

“We should have showed more respect for him,” Boston’s Paul Pierce said.

All the Portland starters contributed: Miles hit 13 of 17 shots, Zach Randolph had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Theo Ratliff blocked six shots for the second straight game and Derek Anderson and Damon Stoudamire had six assists each.

“This is my first time playing with a lot of veteran players,” said Miles, traded by Cleveland last Jan. 21. The opponent “is so worried about Damon hitting a three, DA (Anderson) hitting a three, and Zach in the post, they’re just leaving me open.”

Miles did most of his damage on drives and fastbreaks and Portland held a 44-30 rebounding advantage while outscoring Boston in the paint 64-34.

“We really struggled with Ratliff all season,” Boston coach John Carroll said. “He doesn’t let you get to the rim.”

Portland remained a half-game behind Utah for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Jazz beat New Orleans.

“I told the guys we had to win this game,” Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We put a lot of emphasis on not making mental mistakes after letting one get away in New York.”

The Knicks beat the Blazers 92-91 on Monday night. On Wednesday, Boston missed a chance to tie New York for seventh place in the Eastern Conference but leads Cleveland by 1 1/2 games for the conference’s final playoff spot.

The Celtics were led by Ricky Davis with 27 points and Pierce with 23.

Miles scored 10 points in a 20-6 third-quarter run that turned a 51-48 halftime deficit into a 68-57 lead midway through the period.

“Coach called a little more plays for me,” Miles said. “He usually goes to Theo on the first play, but he called the first play for me and since then I was just aggressive.”

The lead never fell below five points in the fourth quarter thanks to backup guard Eddie Gill, who scored all 11 of his points in the period.

“We were just trying to give Damon some rest,” Cheeks said. “Eddie kept playing well so I kept him in the game.”

Portland is 9-4 in its last 13 games and ended Boston’s winning streak at three.

“We definitely don’t have the athletes that they have,” Pierce said. “So we have to do a lot of the little things, like boxing out.”

The biggest lead of the first half was 49-42 by the Celtics, but the Blazers’ took over in the third quarter. Randolph had eight points in the 20-6 run in which Portland scored the last 12 points.

The Celtics cut the lead to 78-70 after three quarters and made it 84-79 with 8:35 left in the game on Pierce’s jumper.

But the Blazers scored the next 11 points for a 95-79 lead with 4:33 to play. Randolph and Miles each had four points in the run and Gill added three. Pierce ended it with a free throw.

The score was 105-93 before the Celtics scored the last five points.

Notes

Portland is 4-3 against Boston in their last seven meetings with the road team winning all the games. … In their other meeting this season, the Blazers scored the first 22 points and beat the Celtics 105-84 on Feb. 21. … Carroll was ejected when he picked up his second technical foul with 20 secondsleft for arguing that a Portland player had stepped out of bounds.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Portland
Z. Randolph Z. Randolph
9-15,  18 Pts
11 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Boston
P. Pierce P. Pierce
8-17,  23 Pts
9 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists