Entering last week, the Boston Celtics hadn’t won a road game against a Western Conference foe since 2013.
They’ve now won three in eight days.
The Celtics dispatched the Utah Jazz 99-90 on Monday, assuring at least a .500 finish on their grueling six-game West Coast swing.
Tayshaun Prince quickly has evolved from buyout candidate to key contributor for the Celtics on this road trip. The veteran swingman played like it was 2005 Monday night, racking up 12 first-half points in 11 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting (including 2-for-3 from deep).
Prince was just as productive after halftime. He finished with 19 points, five assists and two rebounds in by far his best game in Celtics green.
With the way Danny Ainge has handled his business this season, Prince probably will be traded by the time you wake up Tuesday morning.
TALE OF TWO QUARTERS
After finishing the first quarter tied at 17 apiece, the Celtics blew away the Jazz in the second, outscoring their hosts 38-14 in the frame to take a 24-point lead into the locker room. It was the Celtics’ highest-scoring quarter of the season.
The defense in the second — powered by Prince, Marcus Smart, Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley — was dominant and energetic — certainly not what you would expect to see from a team playing its fourth game in five days, all in different cities.
Jared Sullinger (12 points, nine rebounds) also turned in a strong effort on the boards against two much taller opponents in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
The third quarter was just about the polar opposite, as Utah outscored Boston 35-16 to more than double its point total. Brad Stevens disciple Gordon Hayward led the way with 13 points in the frame, including 10 in a 2:07 span midway through the quarter.
Hayward finished with a game-high 26 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
BENCH BIG ONCE AGAIN
Reserve guard Marcus Thornton wasn’t much of a factor during Boston’s big second quarter, but he made up for it in the fourth. Thornton scored six of the first 13 points in the final frame, helping the Celtics reel off a 10-2 run to open the quarter.
Prince, Thornton (nine points), Smart (nine) and Tyler Zeller (14) all turned in strong offensive performances as the Celtics’ bench outscored their starters 53-46.
Up next: The Celtics wrap up their spin through the Western Conference on Wednesday with a visit to Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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