Final, Jazz win 110-98: False alarm. It never really got interesting.
The Boston Celtics fell apart just when it looked like they might make a last-ditch attempt and the Utah Jazz walked off with the win. The Jazz (20-36) snapped a three-game losing streak while the Celtics (19-39) suffered their fifth consecutive loss.
Alec Burks led the way for Utah with 21 points off the bench. Derrick Favors dropped 20 points to lead the Jazz’s dominance in the paint, where they outscored the Celtics 54-46 — and it wasn’t even that close.
Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green posted nice scoring totals with 21 points each, but nobody in a green jersey played a lick of defense. The Jazz shot over 60 percent for most of the game, finishing at 55 percent, and Gordon Hayward cruised to 10 assists.
Thus ends the Celtics’ four-game post-All-Star break road trip. They went 0-4 on the trip and remain winless on the road against the Western Conference this season.
Fourth quarter, 2:24, Jazz 105-96: Burke and Burks are teaming up to keep Boston at arm’s length, but the Celtics aren’t going away. Bass played some nice defense to swat away a Burke layup attempt as the shot clock expired.
That gives the Celtics a chance to make this a two-possession game and perhaps make things really interesting.
Fourth quarter, 7:17, Jazz 93-83: Jerryd Bayless hits a 3-pointer to pull Boston back within 10, but Olynyk has done the legwork to pull the Celtics back. Olynyk’s old-fashioned three-point play set up the score for Bayless’ shot to matter.
Suddenly, the Celtics have a chance not just to keep this thing from being embarrassing, but to win. They’ve narrowed an 18-point deficit, and the Jazz certainly know how to lose. They’ve done so 36 times in 55 games this season.
Fourth quarter, 8:29, Jazz 93-75: Burks is having a lot of fun, and that’s bad news for the Celtics. The shoot-first sixth man now has 16 points. He’s getting them relatively easily, too, like an open-floor jam with a few Celtics defenders meandering back on defense.
End of third quarter, Jazz 83-68: Gordon Hayward becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the seasons, raising speculation he might sign elsewhere. We’re not buying it.
Why would Hayward leave and miss out on epic showdowns like this?
Hayward’s had a relatively easy night, scoring just eight points while four of his teammates reach double figures. The Jazz’s advantage has reached 15 points and it’s only growing. Olynyk, who is having a nice offensive game with 11 points, got completely rejected at the buzzer and went begging for a goaltending call.
That’s what this game has come to: begging for goaltending calls after your shot gets swatted to halfcourt.
Third quarter, 2:48, Jazz 81-64: OK, now we’re just sort of throwing the ball around, tossing it off the rim and dribbling off people’s feet. It’s Celtics-Jazz basketball, folks!
Honestly, this thing is really sloppy now. Rondo is on the wrong kind of triple-double watch with 16 points, eight assists and four turnovers. Chris Johnson has turned into a pumpkin by shooting a cool 2-for-7, including 0-for-4 beyond the arc.
Third quarter, 7:06, Jazz 72-55: All right, this is getting ridiculous.
Utah has opened up a 17-point advantage to open the second half, with Hayward throwing down an open-floor dunk to give this thing an “uh, oh” feeling.
Halftime, Jazz 59-46: Jeff Green has rediscovered something resembling his shooting stroke and Rajon Rondo is dribbling and dishing, but the Celtics won’t cut away at Utah’s lead until they play some defense.
Green leads the Celtics with 14 points, while Rondo is tied with Jazz guard Gordon Hayward with a game-high six assists. But the Jazz are shooting an obscene 60 percent from the field with 28 points in the paint.
Derrick Favors leads all scorers with 15 points, needing only eight shots to get there. Marvin Williams is also in double figures with 12. The Celtics are shooting just 38 percent, with Brandon Bass’ 1-for-9 mark bringing up the rear. Bass has made himself useful in other ways, however, nabbing seven boards and getting to the line, where he is 4-for-4.
Second quarter, 3:09, Jazz 48-37: Kelly Olynyk is making his presence felt at both ends — not entirely in a good way.
Olynyk has hit all four shots he’s taken, including a fastbreak finish on a nifty bounce pass by Rondo, to pile up nine points. He’s tied with Green for the team’s scoring high. But he’s also committed three fouls in seven minutes, which is Greg Stiemsma or Jason Collins-esque.
Points are cool, as are Rondo’s assists (now up to five), but Utah’s lead is only growing. Favors and Kanter have been killing Boston down low. Now Marvin Williams is getting in on the act, using Boston’s reaction to the post scoring to drain a couple of 3-pointers.
Second quarter, 5:29, Jazz 41-33: Rajon Rondo is finally starting to find his groove. The Celtics are just wondering what took him so long.
Some pretty up-court passing created an alley-oop opportunity from Rondo to Green, who flushed the lob pass from Rondo. The Celtics’ point guard now has four assists, while the rest of the Celtics have two.
Of course, it doesn’t mean much if Rondo’s stats don’t translate. The Celtics are fighting to get back within striking distance, and given both teams’ relatively slow pace, an eight-point edge is equal to a 12- or 15-point edge from a faster-playing squad.
Second quarter, 7:42, Jazz 38-26: Utah is taking it to the Celtics. Yeah, apparently that can happen.
The Jazz, one of the worst teams in the league on offense and defense (and probably special teams, if that existed in this sport), have bolted out to a 12-point advantage. Alex Burks, their sparkplug off the bench, has delivered seven quick points and two assists in eight minutes.
The Celtics are now shooting just 36 percent and are 0-for-5 from deep. If it weren’t for their 6-for-7 mark from the free throw line, they would be getting blown all the way out of the gym.
End of first quarter, Jazz 27-18: Fun fact: The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise was in Salt Lake City. The Celtics might want to swing by right now. It’s about the only place they might be able to buy a bucket.
The Celts are shooting 7-for-21, including a pair of 2-for-6 showings by Jeff Green and Humphries. Meanwhile, Enes Kanter has picked up where Favors left off taking it to Boston’s bigs.
Kanter has six points while working hard on the offensive glass, where he has two boards. Humphries and the Celtics did an admirable job of containing Cousins on Saturday, so they might want to go back to that gameplan. They’re having much less success against a couple of much less talented big guys tonight in Utah.
First quarter, 5:35, Jazz 15-8: Derrick Favors isn’t playing like a guy who’s been sidelined more often than not over the last two weeks.
Favors began the game hitting three straight midrange jumpers, and after a missed baseline jump shot he scored a putback layup. The Jazz are shutting down the Celtics by giving shot-happy Humphries all the looks he wants. Hump has taken four of Boston’s nine field goal attempts and has half of their points thus far.
9:14 p.m.: So, somehow a basketball hit a camera perched a good five feet above the backboard, so we’re in a delay. A fine fellow is trying to remove the camera from its location, so it doesn’t fall off and bonk somebody on the head. That would be bad.
Hopefully, we’ll get things started soon. But no promises.
8:28 p.m.: With Sullinger out, Kris Humphries will get another crack at starting. He acquitted himself well the last time, scoring 19 points and getting under the skin of Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins on Saturday.
Humphries’ defensive job will be a bit easier against Favors, but unlike Cousins, Favors actually tries to play defense. So that will be different.
Favors will start but his minutes will be limited. That will be more extended time for Enes Kanter, who has started in Favors’ absences.
The projected starters appear below.
7:24 p.m.: Jared Sullinger’s absence could end up being a bigger problem than anticipated for the Celtics.
Derrick Favors is likely to play tonight, Utah coach Ty Corbin told reporters before the game. That means the Jazz will have their starting center and one of the league’s best young defensive big men back in the lineup against a Celtics team desperate for some relief.
Favors, a fourth-year big man out of Georgia Tech, averages 12.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He had missed Utah’s last three games with a hip injury.
4:30 p.m. ET: Two of the league’s finest young big men are likely to watch from the sidelines in a battle of team with two of the worst records in the NBA.
Boston Celtics center/forward Jared Sullinger will be out for the second straight game after suffering a concussion Friday. Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors, who has missed seven of the last 13 games with a hip injury, is questionable for the game despite participating in shootaround Monday morning.
Of course, the list of injured players doesn’t end there for the Celtics (19-38). Avery Bradley is also slated the miss the game, although Rajon Rondo is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday in the second night of a back-to-back. The good news for Celtics fans is that Gordon Hayward will play for the Jazz (19-36). A few folks seem to be holding out hope that the Celtics will be able to sign Hayward, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, this summer.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 9 p.m.