Rajon Rondo had 14 assists for the Celtics (28-22). Gordon Hayward led the Jazz (27-24) with 19 points.
Fourth quarter, 3:51, Celtics 84-73: Garnett took control of the fourth quarter on both ends of the floor, as well as the psychological game within the game. Stats aside, the Big Ticket has made the Celtics a far better team than his 19 points and nine rebounds.
Fourth quarter, 5:58, Celtics 80-71: It's that time again — the time of the game when Garnett gets under somebody's skin. Garnett and Jefferson exchanged words after Garnett elbowed Jefferson in the chest and Jefferson shoved Garnett in the shoulder. Technical fouls were issued to both players.
Fourth quarter, 8:57, Celtics 73-68: For a moment, the Celtics had a problem. Kanter hit a jumper and Alec Burks converted a three-point play to the tie the game. Before the Celtics could worry, Garnett found Keyon Dooling for a 3, KG hit a fadeaway and Bradley knocked down two free throws to set the Celtics' lead back to seven points.
The crowd was not happy when Hayward blocked back-to-back attempts at the rim by Dooling and Bradley. They loudly booed the refs, but in real-time and on replays, it was pretty obvious Hayward blocked both shots cleanly.
Stiemsma also picked up his fifth foul after that sequence, which added to the crowd's disdain for the officials.
End of third quarter, Celtics 66-61: That quarter could not have gone more poorly for the Celtics. Well, it could have, but only if someone had been hurt.
The Jazz finished the frame on an 18-5 run, pulling within four points momentarily. The Celtics still held Utah to 39 percent from the field, but they started fouling to boot. The Jazz graciously accepted the freebies to make it a workable margin heading into the final quarter
Third quarter, 5:19, Celtics 63-53: The Jazz' interior passing game, which is one of their strengths, finally made an appearance. Jefferson, Millsap and Hayward shared the ball, leading to easy layups that closed the gap to 10 points.
Rondo continued to dazzle with 12 assists and only two turnovers. He toasted Harris, contributing to Millsap and Favors getting into foul trouble for having to come over and help on dribble penetration.
Third quarter, 7:29, Celtics 61-43: If these teams were in the same conference, they would be battling for the same playoff seed. On the court in this game, though, the Jazz look like no match for the Celtics.
The Jazz continued missing, falling to 17-for-46 from the field, and the Celtics continued to capitalize. Utah has yet to benefit from its 31-20 advantage on the boards or its 9-1 offensive rebounding advantage.
The Celtics, meanwhile, shot a crisp 52 percent and had 16 assists on their 26 field goals.
Halftime, Celtics 46-35: After holding the Jazz to 38 percent shooting in the first half and forcing 12 turnovers, the Celtics cruised into the half with an 11-point lead.
There were some areas of concern heading into the final 24 minutes. The Celtics were badly outrebounded 28-16 overall and 7-1 on the offensive glass. All those extra opportunities could enable Utah to come back if the Jazz shoot evenly slightly better than they did in the first two quarters.
The Good: Rajon Rondo was wheeling and dealing against overmatched Jazz point guard Devin Harris. Rondo was also loving his new toy, athletic center Ryan Hollins. Rondo and Hollins connected on two alley-oops in the first half, accounting for two of Rondo's seven assists. … Gordon Hayward was one of the few Jazzmen not affected by the brick bug. The Butler product was 4-for-5 from the floor and led the Jazz with nine points.
The Bad: Many Celtics fans dream of one day bringing Al Jefferson back to Boston. He did not do much to earn their affection in the first half. Big Al was 1-for-8 with five rebounds and a blocked shot, and the Celtics' unusually high volume of dunks in the first half had a lot to do with Jefferson's poor positioning.
The So-so: Greg Stiemsma blocked three shots and drew huge roars from the crowd for each one, but he gave up as many points as he allowed. Derrick Favors was a block victim of the Stiemroller, but Favors also muscled past Stiemsma for six points.
Second quarter, 2:32, Celtics 42-29: Garnett and the Celtics had the Jazz all out of sorts during a 13-4 run. The Jazz, particularly Harris, could not crack the Celtics' help defense. Millsap was also spooked into a traveling violation at the top of the key.
Hollins was able to get out ahead of the defense for an alley-oop dunk from Rondo, who seems to have one eye on the 7-footer at all times.
The Jazz always foul a lot, so their nine fouls in the first 22 minutes was not a total surprise. Their 34 percent shooting and 10 turnovers were a different story.
Second quarter, 5:48, Celtics 29-25: Devin Harris had a bad sequence. The Jazz point guard was whistled for an offensive foul, and as he argued the foul he picked up a technical foul.
The Celtics were getting ruined on the glass, as expected, 23-13. It did not matter much, though, because the Jazz could not hit shots. The Jazz hit only nine of their first 27 field goal attempts for a solid 33 percent mark.
Second quarter, 7:39, Celtics 25-23: Either the Celtics played sterling defense of the Jazz forgot about the existence of the shot clock.
Utah got caught without getting off a shot at the end of the first quarter and followed that by failing to get off a shot before the 24-second clock expired. Forcing the Jazz to waste those type of possessions could be pivotal for the Celtics if this game stays close.
End of first quarter, Jazz 21-18: Greg Stiemsma was active on defense in the first quarter, blocking two shots while managing to avoid serious foul trouble. (He did pick up one foul.)
The Jazz have enough frontcourt depth to give the Celtics a lot of trouble if Garnett or Stiemsma gets into foul difficulty. The starting combo of Jefferson and Millsap is tough enough without having to worry about Favors and Enes Kanter coming off the bench.
First quarter, 2:10, Jazz 17-14: These teams have not exactly put on an offensive showcase.
The Celtics and the Jazz were a combined 3-for-15 from the field in the first four minutes of action. After C.J. Miles hit a 3-pointer to knot the score at 14-14, it took almost two minutes of game time for anyone to score again. Hayward ended the drought with a 3 to give the Jazz their first lead.
First quarter, 4:23, game tied 14-14: Avery Bradley has cut up some opponents with his cutting off the ball, and the Jazz have their own weapon in that respect. The difference is, the Jazz' dangerous cutter is 6-foot-8.
The Celtics interestingly opted to go with Bradley on Gordon Hayward, the Jazz' constantly moving forward. They stuck Paul Pierce on C.J. Miles, a 6-foot-6 guard not known for his off-ball movement except for drifting to different areas outside the 3-point line.
Rajon Rondo found Bass twice for big dunks to get the crowd going early. These teams have virtually no chance of ever meeting in the postseason anytime soon, otherwise this could be described as a playoff atmosphere on this Wednesday night.
7:20 p.m.: The fan giveaway for this game was one of those retractable scroll-type banner thingies. (I really can't do a better job of explaining it than that.)
With a little more than 10 minutes to tip-off, they have already been featured excessively on the video board.
6:50 p.m.: Allen will indeed miss this game, and Rivers was noncommital as to Allen's status going forward other than the say the Celtics are "hopeful" he can play Friday in Minnesota.
Rivers understandably was concerned about rebouding. The Jazz are the fourth-best team in the NBA in rebounding, while the Celtics are infamously at the bottom of the list in that statistic. This game may challenge the Celtics' thin frontcourt more than any game since the loss of Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox. Millsap and Jefferson each average more than nine rebounds per game.
5:40 p.m.: Avery Bradley is again listed as the Celtics' starting shooting guard, which suggests Ray Allen will miss his fourth straight game with a sore right ankle.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers addresses the media in about an hour, so we'll bring you any information once he provides it.
The probable starting lineups appear below:
5:20 p.m.: It's always interesting to see which guys get on the floor earliest to shoot. Jazz backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who was out of the NBA last season and began this year in the D-League, was out with a ballboy shortly before 5 p.m.
Pierce and Bass were the first Celtics players who came out to hoist some shots.
4:55 p.m.: Two soliders who have served in Afghanistan will be honored at Wednesday's Celtics game.
Sergeant Kevin Paulson of Brimfield, Mass., and specialist Jared Ward of Lynn, Mass., will present a special dedicated flag to the Celtics in a pregame ceremony.
The flag was flown during a recent mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Both soliders, who are home on leave, will also be honored during the second quarter of the game.
Celtics president Rich Gotham will receive the flag.
8 a.m. ET: The Celtics get to do something on Wednesday that they have only done once since March 10 — play a home game.
Riding a two-game win streak that has them within a 1/2 game of the Philadelphia 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division, the Celtics (27-22) host the Utah Jazz (27-23) at the TD Garden. The post combination of Kevin Garnett and Greg Stiemsma, which has played a huge rule in the Celtics' success of late, will face a challenge in Utah's deep frontcourt led by Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
This will be just the ninth game ever against Boston for Jefferson, who was sent by the Celtics to Minnesota in 2007 as part of the trade that brought Garnett to Boston. Jefferson has scored 20.1 points per game against the Celtics in his career, his second-highest average against any opponent. (He has scored 20.6 points per game in 18 career contests against the Suns.)
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden, where tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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