Saturday night got ugly. And it got ugly quick.
Boston and Utah were neck-and-neck through the entire first half, but after Boston scored the first bucket of the second half to make it a three-point game, the Jazz pulled away for good.
Utah responded to that basket by rattling off a 10-2 run to pull ahead by 11 with 7:46 remaining in the third period. The C’s never sliced that lead to fewer than nine points the rest of the game.
Al Horford was the only member of the Celtics who scored during the spurt, which spanned three minutes and 32 seconds. Meanwhile, for Utah, four members of its team scored during the run.
The most devastating part of that scoring, from Boston’s perspective, was how the Jazz put the ball through the basket.
The first seven points of the run were all scored off of plays in the paint. Rudy Gobert dunked one home after catching a pass on a hard roll to the basket. Then he hit a free throw after being fouled on an offensive putback attempt. Ricky Rubio was up next in the paint, as he put home a finger roll off a cut to the basket, and then Derrick Favors slammed home a dunk on an alley-oop. Donovan Mitchell’s 3-pointer to cap the run accounted for the only Jazz play outside of the paint during the run.
Utah would go on to pull ahead by as many as 22 points as it continued to score in the paint. Following another string of interior buckets at the start of the fourth quarter, Brad Stevens pulled the plug on his top rotational players by sending Daniel Theis, Brad Wanamaker and Guerschon Yabusele into the lineup.
That crew, along with Kyrie Irving and Semi Ojeleye, helped the Celtics pull back to within 13 with eight minutes left. It had a chance to make it a 10-point game with seven minutes remaining, but a 3-pointer from Wanamaker was no good and Utah went on to close out the game with ease.
The first half of this game suggested that another tight finish was in store at TD Garden. However, Utah thwarted that idea by pounding the paint and cruising to a 98-86 win.
Brad Stevens left Kyrie Irving in the game Saturday night and surrounded him with four end-of-bench reserves. Why, you might ask? Because Irving was the only member of the regular rotation who brought his A-game to the matchup with Utah.
Irving notched 20 points against the Jazz, marking the seventh time he reached that plateau in his last nine games. No other member of the team scored more than 10 points. Irving also shot 8-for-16 from the field, good for a 50 percent rate, while the rest of the team combined to shoot a woeful 36 percent from the field.
Irving, the point guard, also led Boston in rebounds with eight boards. He tied Gordon Hayward and Guerschon Yabusele for the team high in steals with two.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving was the only member of the Celtics who scored more than 10 points. He scored 20.
- Only two Celtics, Irving (20 points) and Jayson Tatum (10 points) scored in double-figures.
- Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell tied for the game high in assists with six apiece. Their combined 12 helpers fell just four short of Boston’s team total (16).
- Mitchell led the game in scoring with 28 points.
- Ricky Rubio added in 20.
- Irving led Boston in rebounds with eight.
- Rudy Gobert grabbed a game-high nine boards.
- Boston recorded only two more assists (16) than it did turnovers (14).
- The contest featured only two lead changes.
- Al Horford blocked a game-high two shots.
- The teams combined to shoot just 28-for-47, a 60 percent rate.
- Guerschon Yabusele tallied a season-high nine points, to go along with two rebounds and two steals, in less than nine minutes of play.
Quote of the Night
We have to build a tougher team mindset.
Brad Stevens on Boston’s mental state.
Kyrie? More like Ky-three, am I right? The Celtics captain may be shooting 39.1% from beyo…