Make enough three-pointers to hang around, then crank up the defense in the fourth quarter to key the win.

It might not be a championship formula, but the Trail Blazers put it to good use Saturday, when they subdued the Boston Celtics in the final quarter for a 112-104 victory before an announced sellout crowd of 20,011 at the Moda Center.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead a balanced attack for Portland (28-9), which had seven players score in double figures.

It was the kind of game a glass-half-empty fan could nitpick for hours, with the Blazers playing porous defense in the first half against the struggling, tired Celtics (13-25), who lost a tight game the night before at Golden State and lost their eighth in a row Saturday. Make no mistake -- the Blazers know they’re playing with fire.

“I kind of like the mood of the locker room -- we were excited about the win, but we weren’t excited about how we got it,” guard Wesley Matthews said.

The Celtics, who entered the game ranked 25th in scoring at 95.1 points per game, looked liked an offensive juggernaut early, building a 10-point lead in the first quarter, when they shot 70 percent from the field. Boston shot 61.9 percent in the first half and led 60-58 at halftime. It was the ninth time in 13 games the Blazers have trailed at the break.

“We can’t let teams come out and get comfortable and feel like they outworked us the first half,” center Robin Lopez said.

The Blazers used a 13-0 run in the third quarter to take control of the game as Nicolas Batum scored 11 points in the quarter. They then clamped down defensively in the fourth, holding Boston to 7-for-30 field goal shooting. Portland only shot 31.6 percent in the fourth, but made the kind of effort plays that were missing in the first half.

Thomas Robinson and Batum – who was playing with a splint to protect his injured left middle finger – stepped in front of Boston players to take charging fouls. Robinson’s play came right after he scored on an offensive rebound on the other end as he stepped in front of former Blazers guard Jerryd Bayless and took the charge just before LaMarcus Aldridge subbed in for him.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts liked the sequence so much, he gave Robinson a hard hand slap as the forward left the game.

Portland also made key effort plays late, with Matthews chasing Jordan Crawford – who once hit a dramatic game-winning three-point shot in this arena while playing for Washington – all the over the court when the Celtics were trying to score late. Lopez fought hard for offensive rebounding position on a Matthews three-point attempt, forcing Jared Sullinger to foul him. Lopez made two clutch free throws with 1:11 left.

And Aldridge had a huge block on a shot by Avery Bradley with 1:03 left to stave off Boston’s late comeback attempt.

“I think with our success, we kind of relax a little bit to start games because we feel can make it a game, and when it comes down to it, we can win it,” point guard Damian Lillard said. “We just have to get back to playing 48 minutes.”

The Blazers did a have bright spot in the first half in rookie CJ McCollum, who in his second NBA game shed the tentativeness he showed in his debut Wednesday against Orlando. McCollum scored eight of his 10 points in the first half and finished 4 for 6 from the field and 2 for 3 from three-point range.

“He was terrific,” Stotts said. “He kept us afloat in the first half. He came out aggressively, looked for his shot. Those two threes, they did a good job of closing out on him, and he still focuses and made the shot.”

McCollum and Mo Williams – who added 11 points and four assists – helped the Blazers bench finish with 27 points, its biggest output in a non-blowout game since Portland’s 109-96 win in Boston on Nov. 15, when the bench chipped in 31 ponts.

“He’s a threat off the bench, and he can make shots,” Matthews said of McCollum.

The win improved the Blazers to 3-2 in a stretch of games where they played teams with losing records, with wins over Charlotte, Orlando and Boston and losses to Philadelphia and Sacramento. The stretch has included enough defensive and effort lapses that even Stotts conceded the Blazers were playing down to opponents’ records.