All anybody really needs to know about the game was this:
It was delayed 20 minutes before tipoff after an errant shot in warm-ups jarred loose a camera perched five feet above the backboard. It was later delayed several minutes to retrieve a missed runner by Jerryd Bayless that got stuck on top of the same backboard.
Everything in between went about the same.
Kelly Olynyk scored 21 points in a nice-looking offensive performance on paper, but the box score didn’t describe how little luster the Boston Celtics brought to their 110-98 loss to the Utah Jazz. Almost nobody in a green jersey attempted to play defense the entire game, with the Jazz needing a scoring drought in the fourth quarter to drop them below 60 percent shooting from the field.
In that respect, Olynyk’s three personal fouls were almost praiseworthy. At least they showed he tried to play defense three times.
The Celtics (19-39) ended their four-game Western Conference road trip pretty much as everyone expected. They went 0-4 on their swing through Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, fading down the stretch in the latter three games against three fairly awful teams. Led by Derrick Favors, the Jazz (20-36) completely dominated inside — something their 54-46 edge on points in the paint failed to convey.
Favors hit his first three shots, all midrange jumpers, and Utah was off from there. When Favors wasn’t piling up his 20 points, he was opening looks for others when the Celtics were forced to collapse. That enabled Alec Burks and Marvin Williams to score 21 and 19, respectively, as the Jazz snapped a three-game losing streak.
Defense often gets mistaken for effort. Saying the Celtics didn’t try would be letting them off the hook. Even token rotations should have been enough to slow down a squad like the Jazz, but even that wasn’t there. The Celtics on Monday looked like a team that just wanted to get it over with. Pretty soon, their wish could come true.
It sounds weird, considering the Jazz needed an uninspired performance from the Celtics to crack the 20-win barrier, but Utah is not horribly positioned for a promising future.
Rookie point guard Trey Burke began the season on the sideline with a hand injury but has since shown himself to be a stud in the making, winning back-to-back West Rookie of the Month awards. Favors is a defensive menace. Enes Kanter is a ferocious rebounder. Gordon Hayward is a do-everything swingman who is capable of scoring 28 points or handing out 10 assists, which he alternately did in each matchup with the Celtics this season.
Things could really get interesting if the Jazz earn a high pick in the 2014 NBA draft. At their current position in the standings, they would have about a 7 percent chance at the top pick. Getting a player who can put the ball in the hoop, like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Dante Exum, could quickly change the outlook for a team mired at the bottom of the standings.
That has no bearing on Monday’s outcome, however. This was still an ugly loss for the Celtics, especially with the way they went down. A hopeful future doesn’t offset how bad Utah is at the moment. Let’s make that much clear.