Final: Jazz 110, Celtics 97. What can you say? It’s pretty tough to beat a team whose starting five hits seven threes in the second half. The Jazz shot the lights out and earned this win, end of story.
To make matters worse, Doc gets himself tagged with a double technical with 1:11 left, needlessly getting himself thrown out of the game. A frustrating ending to a frustrating game for the Celtics, whose four-game winning streak is snapped in Salt Lake City.
Fourth quarter, 2:12, Jazz 105-91: OK, now it’s definitely out of reach. Boozer gets into the lane, draws contact from KG, gets to the line, and hits two free throws. The lead is once again at 14, and the Celtics are running out of time. Looks like it won’t be a perfect road trip for the Celtics after all.
Fourth quarter, 3:56, Jazz 101-89: Every time you think the Celtics have a chance of getting back in this game, the Jazz come up with a big three-pointer to deflate the Celtics. This time it’s C.J. Miles knocking one down from the corner — once again, the Jazz are in double digits, and it’s starting to look like this game’s out of reach.
Fourth quarter, 6:41, Jazz 95-81: The Jazz look energized and poised to finish this thing off, and the Celtics just look tired. Carlos Boozer blocks a Ray Allen three and takes it coast-to-coast for a dunk, and the Utah crowd is once again fired up and loving it. The Celtics are in bad, bad shape.
Fourth quarter, 9:06, Jazz 86-79: This one’s not over yet. A couple of Utah misses and a couple of clutch Boston defensive rebounds give the C’s a chance to chip away at the lead, and Marquis Daniels and Michael Finley give them a few buckets to keep them within striking distance. But they’ve got to have the starters back on the floor if they want to keep getting stops. How much does Doc Rivers want this one? He’s got something to prove right now.
End of third quarter, Jazz 82-73: Deron Williams drives a dagger through the Celtics’ hearts with a three from the corner at the 1:25 mark, making it a 13-point Utah lead. Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels provide the Celtics with a little bit of scoring punch off the bench, bringing them back to within nine, but the Celtics really look defeated now. A 33-point quarter for the Jazz has taken a lot out of the embattled C’s. They’ve got 12 minutes left to regain their confidence.
Third quarter, 3:06, Jazz 75-65: The Jazz are one of the faster-paced teams in the Western Conference, showing a propensity to drive to the basket and score early in the shot clock. But as they try to defend a lead against a good team like the Celtics, you can tell they’re capable of slowing the game down. It’s been a grinding three minutes here in the latter part of the third quarter, with the Jazz moving the ball methodically and working hard on the defensive end to slow the Celtics down. A driving layup from Paul Millsap keeps the Jazz in control of their double-digit lead.
Third quarter, 5:50, Jazz 73-63: A few mistakes from the overconfident Deron Williams give the Celtics an opening to sneak back into this game — a bad pass, another bad pass, an airball for three. The Celtics capitalize and get to within two, but a pair of huge Utah threes lets the air out of the Celtics’ tires. C.J. Miles drains one, Mehmet Okur knocks down another. The crowd at EnergySolutions Arena is going ballistic, as the Jazz suddenly have a double-digit lead in a game they’d trailed from the start.
Third quarter, 9:06, Jazz 63-58: Talk about a deflating three-minute stretch for the Celtics. It’s a 14-4 run for the Jazz, who attack the C’s at full strength. Booz and Memo are on the floor, foul trouble be damned, and they’re scoring from all over the place. Boston is in serious trouble now. If the C’s don’t bear down and get a few stops, fast, they can kiss their winning streak goodbye.
Halftime, Celtics 54-49: With Utah’s big man corps depleted by foul trouble (three on Carlos Boozer, two on Mehmet Okur), you’d think the Celtics would just be constantly dumping the ball into the paint for Kendrick Perkins. On the contrary. It’s Ray Allen, with 10 points, and Paul Pierce, with nine, who have carried the scoring load for the Boston starting lineup. With slashing scorers and stellar free throw shooting, the Jazz have kept this thing close, but at the break, it’s the Celtics’ game to lose.
Second quarter, 3:08, Celtics 48-42: Who needs starters? The Celtics find a better way to pad their lead over the Jazz in the second quarter: threes. Michael Finley knocks one down to give the C’s a six-point lead, and then Nate Robinson gets the Celtics fired up by hitting two more. The C’s are well out in front now, and it’s taken the Jazz a perfect 10-for-10 night from the free throw line to keep this thing close. Deron Williams has seven of his team’s 10 points from the charity stripe, and a team-high 11 points overall. Good night for the Jazz’s All-Star point guard.
Second quarter, 6:25, Celtics 37-35: The greatest weakness of this Celtics second unit? Defense. Davis and Finley are bringing the scoring touch, no problem. But they’re also lapsing time and time again defensively, allowing the Jazz’s wing guys to drive into the lane and get easy layups. Miles has eight points, Matthews has four, and Utah is sticking around despite Glen Davis’ monster shooting night. Now might be the time to bring the starters back in and close the first half strong. The C’s need a few stops and a few big shots from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Second quarter, 9:02, Celtics 32-29: Good lord, is that Glen Davis or LeBron James wearing the green No. 11? The rest of the Celtics’ bench has been absolutely dead offensively, but Davis’ perfect shooting has carried the Celtics’ second unit and kept them ahead of the Jazz here in the second quarter. 3-for-3 from the field, 7-for-7 from the line, 13 points total, a game high. Michael Finley is the only other Celtic to score a point off the bench.
End of first quarter, Celtics 26-21: There’s a new bench guy stepping up every night to carry the scoring load for the second unit. Tonight, it’s Glen Davis, apparently. Big Adult (any chance that one catches on?) has scored nine of the Celtics’ last 11 points, proving that life’s easy for an undersized forward when the opposing team is even more undersized. No shots getting blocked tonight.
First quarter, 2:48, Celtics 21-14: It’s always a game of runs in the NBA, right? That’s what Doc Rivers always says, and this quarter has proven him right. After starting 1-of-7 from the floor, the Jazz make three straight field goals and go on an 8-0 run, reclaiming the lead; the C’s then come right back with a 8-0 spree of their own. They remain up seven — and just imagine if the shots were falling for Ray Allen. Ray’s 0-for-3 from three-point range, and all three have been good looks. A couple of those fall, and this game’s a blowout.
First quarter, 6:12, Celtics 13-6: The Jazz are quickly discovering what it’s like to play against an elite defensive team. With the C’s man defense clamping down on the wings and clogging the paint simultaneously, there’s never an open man. The rookie two-guard Matthews has been forced into three turnovers in the first six minutes of this game — the Utah youngster is making bad passes, and the C’s are capitalizing. And what’s more, they’re turning those turnovers into points. It’s a seven-point lead early for Boston.
First quarter, 9:25, Celtics 4-2: With Andrei Kirilenko sidelined tonight by a nagging calf injury, the Jazz lose a lot defensively. They become a different team without A.K. — between Deron Williams, Wes Matthews and C.J. Miles, Utah is going small with a bunch of versatile scorers that can knock down the jumper from outside or slash their way in and post you up. This Jazz squad is scary offensively, and the Celtics will need all the energy they can muster at the end of this road trip.
9:02 p.m.: Minutes away from tip-off in Salt Lake City, where the C’s will take the court led by the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Paul Pierce. As for the Jazz, they might not have any accolades coming their way, but they’re right in the thick of the race for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. This should be a good one.
8:01 a.m.: All year long, the Celtics have been a tough team to beat on the road. One of the NBA’s toughest, in fact.
But they’ve got a shot Monday night to take it to another level. Three cities, four days, three wins over Western Conference playoff contenders? Sounds difficult, but with a win Monday over the Jazz in Salt Lake City, the C’s will have done just that.
Boston has now won four straight; the Jazz have won three of four despite battling nagging injuries throughout last week. Both teams are jockeying for playoff position, and every game is big from here on out.
For the C’s, this one is especially huge — finishing off a West road swing with another win would be a huge morale boost. First Houston, then Dallas, now the Jazz without skipping a beat. It’s a tough road trip, but the end is in sight for the Celtics.