Final, Celtics 110, Jazz 86. Well, that's that. So much for the much-anticipated matchup between Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. Rondo propels the C's to a blowout win and rests the fourth quarter; Williams battles foul trouble and finishes with just five points.
The Celtics roll to their fifth straight win, getting 21 points from Kevin Garnett and 20 from Paul Pierce. This one was over at halftime. Maybe even before.
Al Jefferson struggles mightily in his return to Boston, shooting 1-of-11.
The Celtics now hit the road for the first time in two weeks. They'll take on the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
Fourth quarter, 3:29, Celtics 101-79: The Celtics are over the century mark, as Nate Robinson knocks down a wing 3 for his second trifecta of the ballgame. The Jazz are just about ready to call it a night, methinks.
Still no sighting of Gino. It might be time for the C's victory dance fairly soon.
Fourth quarter, 5:58, Celtics 98-76: The Celtics' starters might be on the bench resting up, but they still leap out of their seats from time to time — to applaud Semih Erden.
Semih now has 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting. He's been dazzlingly efficient. The C's veterans are loving it.
Fourth quarter, 7:34, Celtics 94-71: Semih Erden just channeled his inner Shaq, rattling the backboard with a huge dunk. Now I've seen everything.
Semih has gotten a lot of minutes in Shaq's absence. He's played 23 so far, and probably the best seven-plus still to come. His stat line: eight points, six rebounds, perfect shooting from the field (2-for-2) and the line (4-for-4).
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Fourth quarter, 9:11, Celtics 90-69: This game may be all but over, but the refs are still calling it tight. Marquis Daniels gets a technical foul for a small display of frustration.
Since when does Marquis Daniels get technicals? He's the most mild-mannered guy in the NBA.
End of third quarter, Celtics 85-63: Just like in the good old days, the Celtics are getting it done with defense. They're thoroughly dominating the Jazz through three quarters with their suffocating team D.
Utah is shooting 39.6 percent, with 19 turnovers and only 14 assists. The Jazz's two leading scorers have been no shows — Al Jefferson has seven points (on 1-of-11 shooting), and Deron Williams still has just two.
The C's have this one in the bag. We should be in for a nice, relaxing fourth quarter.
Third quarter, 2:44, Celtics 78-60: The Jazz finally make it to 60 points. Deron Williams has exactly two of them.
D-Will has only attempted four shots all night. He's had a combination of foul trouble and Rondo trouble dogging him constantly.
The Celtics' lead is 18, and it's not going anywhere.
Third quarter, 5:48, Celtics 72-51: The nightmare evening continues for Al Jefferson — he's now 1-for-11 from the field with only four rebounds.
Big Al is normally a Celtic killer, with 21 points per game against his former team, but not this time round. The Jazz are getting manhandled inside.
Third quarter, 7:34, Celtics 70-48: The bad news for the Celtics — Shaquille O'Neal has a sore leg and won't be back. The good news — it doesn't appear to matter.
Paul Pierce now has 18 points, Rajon Rondo has 11 assists, and the Celtics are absolutely mutilating the Jazz.
Deron Williams just scored. For the first time all night.
Third quarter, 10:48, Celtics 61-44: Paul Pierce took the second quarter off from scoring, but he's back it now. Pierce knocks down a shot off an assist from KG, and he's now got 15.
The Celtics have made 22 field goals and assisted 19 of them. That is insane ball movement.
Halftime, Celtics 59-41: Every now and then, Rajon Rondo has to have one of those games to remind you — he can absolutely dominate a game without scoring much at all. This is one of those games.
Rondo has 10 assists in the first half, and he nearly had his 11th when he winged a bullet pass to Ray Allen in the corner for the final shot of the half. Clang.
Four C's are in double figures, led by Paul Pierce with 13, but Rondo is the real star of the half. And he's doing it while Deron Williams sits on the bench in foul trouble, too. While Rondo kills it, D-Will is scoreless in only nine minutes.
Second quarter, 2:53, Celtics 52-41: So much for Al Jefferson's big homecoming. Big Al has had a terrible, terrible return to the TD Garden so far. He's shooting 1-for-9.
The Celtics have used Kevin Garnett against the short, stubby Paul Millsap, and for the most part they've had Shaquille O'Neal or Glen Davis guarding Al. Both guys are keeping a body on the big fella and shutting him down.
The Celtics have been ahead by double digits for nearly all of this second quarter.
Second quarter, 4:25, Celtics 50-39: Hey, remember Gordon Hayward?
A year ago, he was hitting big shots to lead the Butler Bulldogs to the NCAA championship game against Duke. Now he's doing it in the pros.
Hayward knocks down a 3 here to bring the Jazz back to within 11. With a deficit like this, they need an outside shooter to creep out of the woodwork and be an X-factor — Hayward just might be their guy.
Second quarter, 6:33, Celtics 48-32: Ray Allen is knocking down shots (3-for-3 so far for nine points) and dishing out assists, too. He finds Big Baby for a jumper, and the Celtics push their lead to 16.
With two 3-pointers in this game, Ray is now 25 trifectas away from tying Reggie Miller for the NBA's all-time record.
Second quarter, 8:27, Celtics 42-27: The Celtics quickly rattle off a 7-0 run. They're getting a nice little scoring boost from their bench in this second quarter.
Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson have combined for 14 points off the bench. Doc Rivers is only playing a nine-man rotation, but that's all he needs. The second unit has been solid so far.
Second quarter, 10:11, Celtics 35-27: Doc Rivers has Nate Robinson on a short leash, yanking him quickly as Jazz guard Earl Watson goes off for nine quick points.
Doc's asking both starting guards to play a lot of minutes. He's got Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen both on the floor, presumably for the rest of the half.
End of first quarter, Celtics 30-19: Paul Pierce plays the entire first quarter for the Celtics, and he makes the most of it. He's got 13 points in 12 minutes.
The C's are just killing the Jazz with their offensive efficiency (Nate Robinson's chucking notwithstanding). They're 10-for-17 from the field, and the Jazz can't keep up.
We'll have to wait and see how long Jerry Sloan lets Deron Williams sit with two fouls. Once D-Will gets back out there, it's a whole new ballgame.
First quarter, 2:57, Celtics 27-12: Paul Pierce now has as many points as the entire Jazz team. He's 3-for-3 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3-point range, 4-for-4 from the line. Perfect as perfect can be.
The Celtics are outshooting the Jazz 71.4 percent to 30.8. Yowza.
First quarter, 3:40, Celtics 24-12: That 3 from Paul Pierce was beautiful, but an underrated part of that possession for the Celtics' was Rajon Rondo's leaping offensive rebound, tipping it out to Ray Allen to get the Celtics a second-chance shot.
Rondo has had a tremendous start, with four assists and two rebounds already. That's a lot more than Deron Williams can say.
First quarter, 5:59, Celtics 17-10: You just got a rare glimpse of the Rajon Rondo-Shaquille O'Neal fast break. Savor that while it lasts.
Kevin Garnett makes a nice defensive rebound, fires a crisp outlet pass to Rondo, and Rondo finds Shaq in transition down the floor. Slam dunk.
Granted, that play is only possible because Shaq never got back on defense in the first place, but it was still nicely done.
The Celtics are getting crazy good looks so far. They're 6-for-8 from the field in this game, and they're up 5-3 on the glass as well. Solid start.
First quarter, 8:18, Celtics 9-4: The Celtics catch a big break early, as Deron Williams finds himself in foul trouble very quickly. And he doesn't look happy about it.
Jerry Sloan has a hard time getting D-Will to sit down, as he continues jawing at the officials.
Earl Watson checks in in his place.
First quarter, 9:37, Celtics 7-2: Deron Williams might be a tough, physical point guard, but Rajon Rondo clearly isn't afraid of him. Rondo just ran laps around Williams, found KG down low, and picked up an easy assist.
The Celtics' offense has been flawless so far. Can they keep it up?
First quarter, 11:22, Celtics 2-0: The Celtics establish the post early on with Paul Pierce.
Shaquille O'Neal gets the ball inside, dumps it to Pierce, and the captain finishes at the rim.
Good sign for the Celtics, especially in this matchup. The Jazz have some weaknesses down low — Paul Millsap is way undersized, and Al Jefferson isn't the best defender. Something for the C's to consider exploiting.
7:20 p.m.: While much of the pregame talk was dominated by the Al Jefferson homecoming (more on that later), Doc Rivers did sneak in a little nugget of news prior to tipoff — Marquis Daniels is healthy and will play Friday against the Jazz despite spraining his ankle two days ago.
The C's will need Daniels' presence as a wing defender against Deron Williams. D-Will likes to drive and kick, and the C's will need to be strong on the wings to limit his penetration.
6 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Utah's Al Jefferson is in the house and he's ready to rumble against the Celtics, his former team.
Stay tuned for updates as the C's take on their old franchise big man.
Celtics-Jazz tips off at 7:30.
8 a.m.: The Celtics have talked a lot this season about establishing their home court, and by golly, they've done a good job of it so far this calendar year.
The C's have played eight games at home in 2011, including a long homestand over the last two weeks, and they're 7-1 over that stretch, featuring wins over San Antonio and Orlando. A Boston team that was 24-17 at home last season, worst among the NBA's 16 playoff teams, has turned the tables this year and started 20-3.
It's a shocking turnaround, and the Celtics will look to keep it going on Friday night as they host the Utah Jazz at the TD Garden.
With another stellar season from Deron Williams, and Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap emerging as top-notch big men this season, the Jazz are once again among the top four or five teams in the Western Conference. They're 27-15 despite back-to-back losses this week, still tied for fourth in the West, and they're going to pose all sorts of matchup problems for the Celtics.
First there's Williams, who's a much tougher and more physical point guard than the Celtics' Rajon Rondo, and he's a versatile scorer as well. Rondo always gets up for the big matchups with opposing point guards, but D-Will might be the toughest cover of all for the C's floor general.
Shaquille O'Neal will have to cover Jefferson, the former Celtic who's younger and more athletic and can use his length to generate efficient shots.
Kevin Garnett will be on Millsap, who's undersized but loaded with energy and beastly on the boards.
Across the board, the Jazz are a tricky bunch for the Celtics to handle. Tune in at 7:30 p.m. Friday and see how they fare.