PORTLAND — The pain in his left leg barely tolerable, Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews hoped he wasn’t asking for trouble with a step-back 3-pointer at the end of a close game against the Boston Celtics.
“As I was stepping back, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing?’ Matthews said. “Instincts take over there. That’s mind over matter."
The 3-pointer fell and Matthews finished with 24 points in Portland’s 92-86 victory Sunday night that snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak.
J.J. Hickson’s hook shot put the Blazers ahead 86-80, but a pair of reverse layups from Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass pulled the Celtics to 86-82 with 2:54 left.
Kevin Garnett’s layup with 1:46 to go tied it, but rookie Damian Lillard answered with his own layup and added a free throw to give Portland back the lead. Matthews, hobbled throughout the game by a lingering injury to his leg and ankle, hit the 3-pointer to give the Blazers the final margin with 53.9 seconds left.
“I was just hoping my leg stayed with me," he said.
Pierce had 23 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who were playing their third game in four nights. Garnett finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
“When we needed stops, we couldn’t get them, when he had a chance to turn the corner, we didn’t turn it," Garnett said. “I thought we had opportunities to take advantage of it. Eight out of 10 times we didn’t do it. Small things, man. Small things."
Matthews missed a game because of a sore left leg and elbow but returned Friday night in Portland’s 111-107 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. The injury was obviously still bothering him, and he limped badly coming off the court after the third period.
Later, Matthews said his leg’s not even at 80 percent.
“He was great for us offensively and defensively. He’s been playing hurt these last couple of games, but that’s Wes. He’s been a warrior for us the whole year and he got it done tonight," said Hickson, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for his 30th double-double this season.
Guard Eric Maynor also made his debut for Portland after coming to the team in a deal with Oklahoma City at the trade deadline, finishing with two points in 15 minutes.
The Celtics jumped out first and led by as many as seven early, but Portland pulled in front on Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer, which made it 18-15. Lillard’s bank shot and free throw gave the Blazers a 38-27 lead midway through the second quarter.
Courtney Lee hit a 3-pointer and Garnett made a jumper to pull the Celtics to 41-39 with 1:31 left in the first half. Wesley Matthews answered with consecutive 3-pointers and the Blazers led 47-42 at the break.
Avery Bradley’s fast-break dunk put the Celtics back in front 55-54 with 8:32 left in the third quarter, but the Blazers regained the lead and were ahead 71-67 going into the final period.
The game stayed close until Matthews made a 3-pointer to put Portland ahead 80-73 with 6:53 to go in the game. LaMarcus Aldridge extended the lead with his own 3 that made it 82-74.
“It was one of those ‘my bad’ games," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “We just had so many of those ‘My faults’ where we lost sight of guys. We didn’t finish any quarter right. It was a gettable game but give them credit, they made some big shots."
Also on Sunday:
MIAMI — LeBron James scored 28 points, Dwyane Wade scored 11 of his 24 in the final five minutes, and Miami extended the NBA’s longest current winning streak to 11 games.
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 22 and New York snapped its longest losing streak of the season at four. Jrue Holiday had 30 points for Philadelphia.
DALLAS — Kobe Bryant had 38 points to win a scoring duel with Dirk Nowitzki, and Los Angeles beat Dallas in a matchup of teams fighting to get in the playoff race. Nowitzki finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks.
NEW YORK — Zach Randolph had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Marc Gasol scored 14 points and Memphis won its seventh straight game with a victory over Brooklyn.
MINNEAPOLIS — Jarrett Jack had 23 points and eight assists, and David Lee had 22 points and 13 rebounds to rally Golden State to a victory over Minnesota.
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Eric Gordon added 17 points and eight assists to lead New Orleans to a victory over Sacramento.
PHOENIX — Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points apiece to lead six San Antonio players in double figures, and the Spurs ended their nine-game road trip with a win over Phoenix.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, Kevin Durant had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Oklahoma City held Chicago to the worst shooting performance in the NBA this season.