Celtics stumble into second half of back-to-back at Portland

The Boston Celtics face a quick turnaround as they play the second of five games on their Western Conference road trip on Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Despite a game-high 37 points from star Jayson Tatum, the Celtics were unable to keep up with the free-firing Utah Jazz in a 137-130 defeat on Friday in Salt Lake City.

The loss was Boston’s third in five games after the Celtics won six of eight.

Defense had been at the center of the Celtics’ resurgence before their recent losing spell. On Friday, Boston gave up a franchise-record 27 3-pointers to the Jazz — 13 of which came from Donovan Mitchell (34 points) and Mike Conley (29 points).

Amid the 3-point barrage, Boston did well to hang around with Utah thanks to a balanced scoring effort. Dennis Schroder finished with 26 points, Al Horford had 21 points and dished out nine assists, and Marcus Smart scored 15.

«Scoring wasn’t the problem for us,» Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. «To only lose by seven with a team shooting that hot, it shows our effort and the way we played hard.»

The Celtics are hopeful to have All-Star Jaylen Brown back in action against Portland after he sat out on Friday for injury management. Brown had been playing through a right hamstring ailment.

Celtics guard Romeo Langford’s status is also a question mark as he did not return after halftime on Friday due to a right ankle sprain.

The Trail Blazers will try to put off-court distractions behind them one day after a major shakeup in their front office.

Portland announced the dismissal of general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey following violations of the team’s code of conduct.

The team launched an investigation into Olshey’s conduct following reports the 56-year-old executive had created a hostile work environment.

«The Portland Trail Blazers are committed to building an organization that positively impacts our colleagues, communities and the world in which we live and play,» a team statement released Friday afternoon read.

The team promoted Joe Cronin to interim general manager while the team searches for a permanent replacement.

In a Friday question-and-answer session with fans on Reddit, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he «always had a really good relationship with Neil» and that «it’s just an all-around unfortunate situation in the business that we work in.»

Lillard will not suit up against the Celtics, sidelined for a third straight game because of lower abdominal tendinopathy.

Portland took a 114-83 home loss against the San Antonio Spurs the last time out on Thursday. CJ McCollum and Norman Powell had 16 points apiece to pace the Trail Blazers, who shot just 35.4 percent (29-of-82) from the floor.

It was the Trail Blazers’ fourth loss in five games after they had won five of their previous six.

«It was disappointing,» Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. «We never really gave ourselves a chance from the start of the game.»

The Trail Blazers and Celtics split their two-game series last season, each winning on the road.

–Field Level Media