If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned eventually.
The Boston Celtics learned that Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena, as they once again fell into a double-digit deficit and tried to pull a rabbit out of their hat with a second-consecutive fourth-quarter comeback.
But where the Phoenix Suns folded when the Celtics applied pressure Thursday night, the Utah Jazz did not.
After roaring out to a 20-point lead in the third quarter, the Jazz allowed Boston to trim it to four in the fourth, but the Celtics would get no closer as Utah held on to grab a 123-115 win.
Joe Ingles was the high man in the game with 27 points. Donovan Mitchell added 21 points and Rudy Gobert (17 points and 15 rebounds) notched a double-double.
Terry Rozier led the C’s with 22 points, while Jayson Tatum scored 21 and Gordon Hayward tallied 13 points and seven assists in his first game back in Utah.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 7-5, while the Jazz improve to 6-6.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Gordon Hayward
C: Al Horford
Kyrie Irving was absent from the game in order to attend his grandfather’s memorial service.
Jazz fans gave Hayward the welcome you’d expect in his first game back as a member of the Celtics.
QUARTER OF RUNS
Unlike Thursday night in Phoenix, the Celtics came out of the gate with a sense of purpose in Salt Lake City. After Ingles opened the game with a layup, Boston went on a run. Rozier and Tatum drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to get the C’s on the board, then Brown found Hayward in transition for a layup.
Following another Jazz missed shot, Hayward found Horford for a dunk to give Boston a 10-2 lead and force a Utah timeout.
The timeout settled the Jazz down, as Utah came out of the stoppage with a renewed intensity on both ends, reeling off 12 straight points to take a 14-10 lead. After the Celtics tied the game at 18, Utah went on a 6-0 run that was followed by a 7-0 Boston spurt to make it 25-24 Celtics. Boston wouldn’t hold the lead after one, though, as Mitchell splashed a triple to give Utah a two-point lead heading into the second.
Ingles and Gobert tormented the Celtics on the offensive end in the second, but Utah’s turnovers allowed Boston to stay within striking distance and tie the game on a Brown jumper with 3:37 to play in the half. The Celtics couldn’t cool down Ingles, though, as the veteran forward scored 13 of Utah’s last 16 points in the second to help the Jazz end the half on a 12-3 run and take a 58-51 lead.
Utah shot 60.5 percent from the field in the half, led by Ingles’ (8-for-9) 20 points and Gobert’s 11 points and six boards. Tatum was the only Celtic to score in double figures in the half, pouring in 12 points.
Utah’s hot shooting continued to start the third quarter.
After Horford opened the second half with a midrange jumper, the Jazz went on a 15-4 run, capped by two Ingles 3-pointers and a Ricky Rubio layup, to open up a 73-57 lead and force Brad Stevens to take a timeout.
The Jazz extended their lead to 20 midway through the period before the C’s went on an 8-0 run to trim it back to 12 with 3:13 to go in the stanza. Both sides traded buckets for the remainder of the period with the Jazz taking a 93-80 lead into the final quarter.
Boston tried to find its comeback magic for the second straight night, but the C’s were couldn’t quite pull off the escape act.
Entering the fourth trailing by 13, the C’s opened the frame on a 16-7 run, capped by a Rozier 3-pointer, to cut the lead to four with under eight to play. Utah’s lead bounced between four and seven for the next six minutes before the Jazz put the game away.
With 2:30 left, Brown had a chance to cut the lead to two, but Gobert blocked his layup and fired an outlet pass to Crowder for an easy layup to push the lead to six. The Jazz put the game away down the stretch with clutch buckets from Crowder, Gobert and Mitchell.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Boston will finish its road trip Sunday when they battle the Portland Trail Blazers. Tip-off from Moda Center is set for 9 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports Images
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