Celtics-Jazz Live: Paul Pierce Refuses to Let Celts Lose in 110-107 Overtime Victory

Paul PierceFinal, Celtics 110-107: Paul Pierce was not going to let the Celtics lose again. A losing road trip was already well in hand, but Pierce came up big with seven of Boston’s 13 points in overtime to enable the Celtics to finish their West road swing with a 2-3 record.

Pierce finished with 26 points in the game, tying Gordon Hayward as the game’s high scorer. Al Jefferson had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, but he disappeared for most of the second half and overtime. Kevin Garnett, the man he was traded for back in 2007, had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Avery Bradley added 18 points.

Of the Celtics’ 86 field goal attempts, 27 were 3-pointers, and unusually high amount for a team with a 3-point rate of only 20.6 percent. Their volume and accuracy from deep helped make up for a 44-28 deficit in points in the paint, 44-37 deficit on the glass and 16-8 deficit in second-chance points.

Overtime, :01.2, Celtics 110-107: First rule of fouling intentionally late in the game is, be close enough to actually foul.

The Jazz forgot about Lee, though, and he was able to waste and extra couple seconds before he went to the line to drain both.

Overtime, :04.2, Celtics 108-107: Garnett, and the Celtics as a whole, could not have defended the last possession any better. The Celtics viciously protected the 3-point line, turning down looks by Hayward and Foye before the ball found Millsap in the corner. Just as Millsap faked a three and started to drive, Garnett gave the shooting foul, sending Millsap to the line.

Millsap got two shots, but he had not chance at tying the game, which is the whole point. Still, that is Garnett’s fifth foul, which is a problem if this game does not end here.

Overtime, :13.8, Celtics 108-105: Green had a chance to put it away, but rather than take a wide-open corner three, he put the ball on the ground. When he met resistance, he tried to dish off late to Garnett, not realizing that there was not enough time left on the shot clock. The resulting turnover gives Utah a chance to take the potential game-tying three — unless the Celtics could early to force the Jazz to take only two free throws, which the Celtics almost certainly will.

Overtime, 1:12, Celtics 106-101: This time, Pierce’s late-game heroics should be more than enough. Following a long jumper by Carroll to pull the Jazz into the lead, Pierce has gone off for seven unanswered points. His latest, a well-defended mid-range jumper, brought a quick timeout from Corbin.

End of regulation, game tied 97-97: Pierce just needed one more basket in him to send everyone at Energy Solutions Arena home unhappy. After a loooong possessions, Pierce finally missed a fallaway jumper at the buzzer, sending us to overtime.

Fourth quarter, :19.9, game tied 97-97: If not for a series of injuries to key backcourt players, Alec Burks probably would not be on the court. The second-year guard out of Colorado spent most of this season on the bench before coach Ty Corbin was finally forced to use him of late, and Burks has responded. He cut into the lane and caught a pass from Hayward for a layup to knot the score and maybe convince his coach that he is worthy of his playing time.

Fourth quarter, :36.6, Celtics 97-95: With the game on the line and the Jazz making the Celtics sweat, Pierce dribbled to the right elbow, pump-faked Hayward out of his sneakers and drained the 15-footer to put Boston ahead. Apparently, Hayward can’t handle The Truth.

Fourth quarter, 2:46, game tied 96-96: The Celtics have been at no shortage of chances. After Garnett hit a pair of free throws with 5:04 remaining, the Jazz went cold, but the Celtics could not capitalize. They even had three shots on one possession, all quality looks, but could not get a single shot to go down.

Finally, Jefferson deliberately backed Bass into the paint and hit a soft baby hook to tie the game.

Fourth quarter, 5:49, game tied 89-89: We have the makings of an exciting final few minutes in Salt Lake City. This is shaping up to be a mano a mano battle between the old soldier Pierce and the up-and-comer Hayward.

Pierce pulled Boston ahead with a contested jumper, then answered a Caroll jumper with a pair of free throws to take the lead back for the Celtics. A mere 15 seconds later, Hayward drew a shooting foul on Garnett, the Boston center’s fourth, and knotted the score again.

Fourth quarter, 8:42, Celtics 85-82: Rivers is imploring someone, anyone, on his team to guard Hayward. The Butler product is having a field day, and got two easy ones by simply trailing the play on the break and catching a dish from Carroll for the two-handed dunk.

Fourth quarter, 9:52, Celtics 82-81: Utah’s bench is one of the toughest units in the league, and Hayward is a huge reason for that. The Jazz bench lost a lot of its effectiveness when Hayward missed 10 games due to injury earlier this year, but not he is back and humming along.

Hayward hit a tough layup over two defenders and drilled a three to pull the Jazz within one point as Utah has outscored the Celtics 9-2 thus far in the fourth.

End of third quarter, Celtics 80-72:The 3-pointer has been responsible for some of the Celtics’ most crushing losses this season, when it has been effectively employed by the other side. They are turning the tables against the Jazz, though.

The Celtics, 25th in the league in the rate of 3-pointers they take compared to their overall field goals, have taken 21 threes versus 65 field goals so far in Utah. They are fairly hot, too, hitting nine of those 21 attempts, for almost 43 percent from deep.

Terry is best when he is aggressive, and he is aggressive here. He is 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, including a pair of threes in the final two minutes of the third.

Third quarter, 2:50, Celtics 70-65: Pierce could be at it again. One night after the captain led a charge back that fell just short against the Blazers, Pierce is off and running in the second half.

Pierce has scored six of his 13 points in the third quarter, while dishing out half of his six assists in this period. Pierce sure did not play like he wanted to lose Sunday, and he is approaching this game like he doesn’t want to lose two straight, either.

Third quarter, 6:40, Celtics 63-60: Maybe it is just because Bradley is all over the place, but now the Jazz are the ones who look indifferent. With how hard Bradley plays, everybody looks a little stagnant next to him.

Bradley drilled two corner threes to help pull the Celtics within one point after Jefferson glided down the lane for a right-handed dunk to extend Utah’s lead to seven. A quick jumper by Lee and an easy tip-away and open-court dunk by Lee pushed Boston into the lead, thanks to their defensive-minded backcourt.

Halftime, Jazz 53-48: Where Hayward left off, Millsap and Marvin Williams picked up and carried the Jazz into halftime with the lead.

Millsap and Williams scored Utah’s last nine points of the second quarter as the Jazz protected a five-point edge. Hayward went for 12 points in the frame to finish the first half with a game-high 13 points, while Millsap and Williams join him in double figures. The Jazz shot 51 percent in the first half, while the Celtics cooled off spectacularly. After shooting 52 percent in the first quarter, the Celtics shot just 36 percent in the second quarter.

For the second game in a row, the Celtics are abandoning the recipe for success since Rajon Rondo’s injury. They have just four assists to Utah’s 13. What is more, they are gambling too often defensively. This has led to some fast-break opportunities, but it has also led to easy buckets for Williams and Millsap.

Second quarter, 5:46, Jazz 44-36: Gordon Hayward and Millsap are two of the better players you probably have never seen play, unless you are a huge Jazz fan or NBA League Pass devotee. With those two making big things (in Hayward’s case) and little things (in Millsap’s case) happen, the Jazz put together a 17-2 run to take their largest lead of the game.

Hayward has three 3-pointers in that stretch and an alley-oop finish off a lob from DeMarre Carroll, an underrated wing player who is always this close to getting released every preseason, but keeps earning a job.

Second quarter, 8:51, game tied 34-34: Just three games into his Celtics career, Jordan Crawford may already have worn out his welcome. Rivers loved what Leandro Barbosa brought to the offense as a wild card. Crawford is something beyond a wild card, whatever that would be.

Crawford got the ball at the top of the key with 10 seconds on the shot clock, plenty of time to find Terry on the wing or Green in the corner, but he waved off a screen by Garnett and missed a wild, contested layup that led to a transition opportunity for Utah. Crawford swiftly found himself on the bench.

Certainly, most of us cannot run or jump like most NBA players, but why is it so hard for some of them to just not take dumb shots?

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-26: Celtics coach Doc Rivers made an interesting decision not to double-team Al Jefferson in the first quarter. That decision enabled the Jazz big man to get seven relatively easy points on single coverage in the post, but Rivers may be setting up Jefferson for a rough time later.

Jefferson is not noted for his passing abilities, so much so that it is one of the glaring deficiencies in his game. (Pick-and-roll defense is the other.) If — or when — the Celtics decide to trap, Jefferson could be susceptible to a turnover or bad shot if he is not prepared.

First quarter, 1:50, Jazz 24-22: So, Bradley really can miss. For a while there, we doubted it. Bradley hit his first five shots before finally missing a baseline jumper.

Neither of these teams normally play especially fast, but the buckets are coming fast and furious here. Both teams are shooting well over 50 percent from the field.

First quarter, 5:45, Jazz 16-15: Avery Bradley and Paul Millsap started out like this was a game of one-on-one. The Utah forward and Boston guard combined to score the first 12 points of this game.

For Millsap, it was as simple as shaking off the token defense by Brandon Bass. For Bradley, it was about causing havoc as a defender and forcing turnovers to get easy baskets.

In case you noticed that the Jazz have a different starting point guard, Earl Watson got the nod. Exactly why is not certain, since Tinsley started the previous game against the Clippers and is not listed as injured.

8:32 p.m.: The D.J. White waiting game continues. Multiple reports say the Celtics and the 26-year-old forward have come to an agreement for the 6-foot-9 Indiana product to join the team, but there appears to be a snag with the paperwork. As a result, White is still not officially a Celtic and cannot play with the team, even though all indications are that he was ready to go as early as Sunday in Portland.

In the meantime, the Celtics will have to make due with the players they have, which was enough to earn a victory over the Suns on Friday but not so much against the Blazers.

All indications are that Kevin Garnett, who was given off Friday to rest, will play with no limitations in the second part of a back-to-back. The Celtics do not have another game after this one until Friday.

The projected starters appear below.

Celtics
Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Courtney Lee
Avery Bradley

Jazz
Al Jefferson
Paul Millsap
Marvin Williams
Randy Foye
Jamaal Tinsley

8 a.m. ET: Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson will still be in Utah Jazz uniforms when the Celtics take the court at Energy Solutions Arena on Monday. Finding anyone who is not surprised by that development could be harder than finding a good bar in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz shockingly stood pat at last week’s trade deadline despite the fact that both Millsap and Jefferson are free agents at the end of the season, and both could be in line for raises. The Jazz cannot afford both of them, however, and many observers assumed they would try to move one during the season. Instead, it looks like the team simply will let their contracts expire and see what it can do with the salary cap space.

In the short term, that makes the Celtics’ job tougher. Paul Pierce led a late rally that fell short Sunday in Portland, and his chances of getting the Celtics back to their winning ways in Utah would have been much greater if one of the Jazz’s All-Star caliber frontcourt players were not around.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 9 p.m. ET.

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