The Boston Celtics should have been tired playing their third game in four nights against a team with the third-ranked defense in the NBA. The C’s, however, shot 59.2 percent from the field en route to a 112-104 win over the Utah Jazz that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.
Boston got off to a hot start and never let the Jazz get comfortable, leading by double digits for most of the contest before weathering a late run to secure the win.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points, while Kelly Olynyk (19 points, seven rebounds), Gerald Green (16 points) and Al Horford (16 points, nine rebounds) each scored in double figures for the Celtics. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 31 points.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 35-19, while the Jazz fell to 34-21.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
The Celtics were absent guard Avery Bradley and forward Jae Crowder when they took the floor in Utah on Saturday night. Bradley missed his 16th consecutive game with an Achilles injury that has hampered him since Jan. 6. Crowder missed his second straight game for family reasons but is expected to return for the Celtics’ game with the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
The C’s had the hot hand to open the game, as they shot 77.8 percent from the field in the first quarter to open up a 10-point lead. Thomas poured in 11 points in the frame, and Olynyk added seven off the bench. Utah got nine points from Hayward to keep it within arm’s reach.
GERALD GREEN TIME
Boston continued its hot shooting in the second frame thanks to Green’s 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting. The Celtics led by 18 midway through the second, but a mini-Utah run allowed the Jazz to cut the lead to 14 at the break. Thomas led all scorers with 15 in the half, while Hayward led the Jazz with 12.
Brown, who had been thrust into the starting lineup with injuries to Crowder and Bradley, did not return after halftime with a right hip strain.
CELTICS PUT IT AWAY
The Celtics led by 18 after the third quarter, and head coach Brad Stevens elected to keep Thomas and Horford on the floor to begin the fourth in an attempt to put the game to bed. It worked.
After Horford knocked down a 3-pointer, Smart jumped an entry pass on defense, which led to a Thomas 3-pointer. Just like that, the lead had swelled to 20. Moments later, Thomas hit a circus shot in the lane, and James Young followed with a trey of his own.
The Jazz made a late run to cut the lead down to six, but it was too little too late, as the C’s were able to salt the game away at the free-throw line.
PLAY OF THE GAME
This blew the game open.
The Celtics will finish their four-game road trip Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports Images
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