A night to remember for Payton Pritchard, who put on a show back home in Portland with the Celtics

PORTLAND, Ore. – For a brief stretch Saturday night, the score didn’t seem to matter. The crowd didn’t care that the Celtics were blowing out the Blazers, that the game had already been long decided or that the starters were watching from the bench. None of that could stop the fun when Payton Pritchard, the hometown hero, made magic out of nothing.

Pritchard’s rapid-fire flurry convinced Josh Richardson to jump onto the floor in celebration. It brought wild cheers from the Portland crowd, which was littered with Pritchard’s family members and friends. The scene grew so frenzied that Ime Udoka apologized to Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. Udoka didn’t like that the Celtics bench drew a technical foul for fawning over Pritchard’s 3-point spree or that the players on the court kept trying to force feed him deep into the final minute.

“We got three offensive rebounds and were getting it back up with 10, nine seconds left,” Udoka said. “Hold that and respect the game. So I did apologize to Chauncey for that. Didn’t mean for it to get out of hand like that. That’s when things can get heated on the court. You’d like a little more understanding, but at the same time he’s playing in his hometown and you’re happy for him. But there’s a line not to cross there.”

Did Pritchard cross a line? He didn’t think so. In his eyes, he was just competing to the final buzzer. Maybe the Celtics were “free balling,” he said, but he felt like he was just “playing ball and hitting shots.


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